After our much-needed family getaway last week, it was time to get back to reality this week. For the kids, that meant catching up on homework and school projects. For me, it meant reading up on whatever news I missed while we were out of town. I knew that the measles had started to make headlines both here and abroad a while ago. I also knew that some states were attempting to remove parents’ rights again, but I was not prepared for just how much news was being made about measles and vaccines in just the few days we were away. You’d think that the US was under multiple “vaccine-preventable disease” threats! According to the CDC, we’re not.
So what’s all the recent fuss about then? It’s still the mainstream news outlets’ favorite of all seasons – flu shot season, but I’ve seen more stories than ever before about the measles. Some have said that it’s because it’s legislative season. With almost all 50 states in their legislative sessions right now, that makes sense. “Legislative measles” has made for some good news for the media lately! So have other “legislative diseases”.
Screenshot of headlines from mainstream news outlets.
This time of year, hundreds of bills are being introduced, sent to committees, and voted on across the country. As has happened in previous years, some of the state bills that are being introduced are about vaccines. Several of the bills are good and support parent choice, like H5165 in Rhode Island which aims to add personal and philosophical exemptions. Other bills, actually quite a few bills in New York and Washington State for example, do not support parent choice and would instead secure more financial gain for the vaccine industry. In quite a few states, lawmakers are trying to remove existing exemptions and are proposing strict vaccine mandates. Mandates mean more shots for more people. More people being vaccinated brings in more money for pharmaceutical companies and their investors. With no true national crisis, the vaccine news I’m reading about isn’t promoting how to protect the publics’ health; it’s all about vaccine profit. No wonder there’s a vaccine media blitz going on!
So what does one do about it?
Below is something that I wrote just 3 short legislative seasons ago. I included the list after a state pro-vaccine bill was introduced that, if passed, would remove parental rights. With impressive support from professionals, parents and health advocates from all over the US, the bill quickly died.
Bills don’t always die though.
I’m hoping that as each state session ends, that we see more parental options and less pharma propaganda promoted. The reality is that it’s going to take a lot of work from a lot of people to make that happen. If you’d like to see the same, here are just a few suggestions of what you can do right now:
- Learn who your representatives are – call or do an internet search of your local/county, state, and federal representatives. That information, plus so much more, can also be found on the NVIC Advocacy portal.
- Start a conversation – talk to your reps! They won’t know what your thoughts are unless you contact them. Support the good bills and voice your concerns when the bad ones crop up.
- Get some face time in – my representative’s Chief of Staff said that it’s always good for parents make calls and to send emails, but the face-to-face time, as difficult as it can be to schedule, is important, too. It might be more difficult to meet during the legislative session at the capitol, but if it’s not a pressing issue, constituents can make appointments when the session is over in the local district office.
- Begin to network with others – as you begin to read and research topics that you are passionate about, speak up about them. As your voice gets louder, you’ll likely run into other like-minded people. Depending on your comfort level, you can network online (like on Facebook groups). If your representatives host town hall meetings, try to attend. You’ll meet people there and can learn how to get involved in local-to-you activities.
- Pace yourself – reading, researching and responding to bills and keeping in touch with lawmakers takes time. Juggling that with my family’s every-day needs isn’t always easy. As much as I want to be there when bills are discussed, I cannot. On those days I can fight for my rights from a distance – from home. You can still do so much from home like write letters, send emails, and make phone calls.
- Stay the course – one of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes is, “Never, never, never give up.” The tough days will be tough, though, which is why I also like Saint John Paul the Great’s quote, “I plead with you--never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.” On the days where you’re tired, where you feel like your voice isn’t being heard, and where your rights are seriously being threatened, stay strong and stay the course. When your voice is finally heard, when your rights have been fought and won, and when justice prevails, it will all be worth it.
To those fighting for your rights, and subsequently for all of our rights, I commend you. I know how very hard a battle this can be. For those who want to know more and who want to preserve the rights you have, join us. Now more than ever, we need to make our voices heard.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.