“So, California? What do you think about what just happened there?” a friend asked me midweek last week.
“California? With SB277? Oh, we’re screwed,” I replied matter-of-factly.
Not expecting that response, my friend’s eyes widened. I continued, “If you think that what happened in California doesn’t affect you, oh, boy. I hate to be the one to tell you that your freedom just got trampled on.”
I waited for her reply.
“Now I know your stance on vaccines, Cathy, but I have to say that all the unvaccinated kids they’ve been letting into school are a danger…” she started.
Now I was the one who was stunned.
She continued, “…and that law would protect my child. Yes, he’s vaccinated, but he’s sick all the time. Those unvaccinated kids bring disease and…”
“Wait. Your son is vaccinated. But he’s sick all the time?” I paused then added, “Maybe it’s not the other kids getting him sick. Have you thought that maybe it’s the vaccines making him sick?”
Not giving her too much time to let that sink in, I said, “You know that vaccines come with risks and that they don’t guarantee immunity, right? You know that they also may add a burden to his immune system. Instead of boost it, it’s having to work harder. Maybe his immune system isn’t working so well because of the vaccines.”
My friend looked at me and then at Ronan and said, “But the immunocompromised kids need the other kids to be vaccinated to prot—…”
“Ronan’s immunocompromised because of the vaccines,” I stated. “That argument doesn’t work. And I would never tell another parent to vaccinate their child to protect my child.”
Before she could say anything, I said, “By agreeing that this law is a good thing for your child because you think it will somehow protect your child, you forget that for other children, like mine, it will only add risk. I’ve studied those risks. I understand those risks now but only after watching my child’s health decline. I can’t ignore those risks, and I will not let what happened to Ronan happen to any of my other children. To say that you’re hoping that your kid will stop being sick when other kids are vaccinated and to completely ignore those risks, well, you can’t ask me to set my child on fire hoping that it will protect your child.”
“But if vaccines help the greater good…” she began. I couldn’t let her finish.
“It sounds like you are only listening to what the media is telling you—that disease is bad and that vaccines are the answer, and that SB277 will ‘protect the children.’ It won’t protect a lot of children. Nor will it help a parent who’s fought like hell to retain their parental rights.
You know that that bill stripped a parent’s right to choose to vaccinate or not. That decision should be a private one, one made by a parent with their doctor if they so choose it. To vaccinate a child is not the people’s decision to make. It’s not the politician’s decision to make either. To use a child’s vaccine status to grant or to deny access to an education, like SB277 will, should never have been on the table for discussion. But that just happened. Kids whose parents prefer a slower vaccine schedule or no vaccine schedule are being left with little or no choice. You missed the boat if you think that the bill was only about vaccines. This bill took away a parents’ choice.”
“I understand that, but…” my friend began.
“No. I have to interrupt you,” I uttered. “You don’t understand. That law…it’s so frustrating. And truly frightening unless you are okay letting someone else tell you what’s best for your child,”
“I know how you feel about vaccines, but I’m okay with them,” my friend declared.
“And that’s fine. That’s your choice. And I respect that we have differing views,” I answered. “But for parents in California, SB277 took that choice away. That’s where the problem is—losing the freedom to choose.
There is another problem, too. You are hearing that somehow kids will be less sick by demanding vaccines for school entry. You can’t really believe that all of a sudden that kids will be healthy and less susceptible to disease. You can’t believe that that will extend into the community either. You run into unvaccinated children and adults all over the place in town. At the pool, the library, the grocery store. Do you know if they are fully vaccinated? What are you going to do, ask to see their shot record to find out before you go near them? That’s absurd.”
“No, but…but…” she attempted to respond.
“If you don’t see that other’s rights—and your rights, too, are in jeopardy than you’ve missed entirely what this legislation did. Not only did it strip the rights of hundreds of thousands of parents in California, it opened the door for other states, like ours, to follow suit. You may be okay with other people telling you what you need to do for your child, but I’m not okay with it.
I won’t stand here and wait to see what happens next because what will happen next scares me. This could get worse too, so I’m going to keep up with the news that’s coming out of California. I’m going to pray that the people come together to defend their rights, to protect their children, and to remind their representatives that taking rights away is not acceptable. I hope you will too.”
“Well, I can see your point,” my friend stammered.
“It’s not just my point. It’s necessary,” I expressed.
That conversation was a culmination of conversations that I have had with friends recently and included one that happened in my kitchen just a few days ago. After that last one, it is more apparent that Average America has no idea what implications SB277 has for the rest of the country. We have got to wake up Average America!
As I see it, people still do have a few choices before SB277 goes into effect in 2016. Here are just a few of those ideas. If you have other pro-active advice to share, please add them to the comments below. Local rallies, coordinating events with local support groups, let us know where they are and how the public can support those efforts:
- Sit back and let the government make choices for you.
- Stand up and voice your opinion: take the online polls about forced vaccinations and losing parent rights; sign petitions; call and send letters to your representatives; repeal this law; recall the representatives; who stood behind it; and help support the referendum introduced by former Assemblyman Tim Connelly.
- Join the social media efforts of those groups defending health freedom and let your voice be heard. Even if it shakes, let your voice be heard.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.