NY federal court hands triple loss to anti-vaccination ideology

vacccine preventable disease plane ride away

The state of New York allows religious and medical (but not philosophical) exemptions from school vaccination mandates. New York City has a policy of excluding unvaccinated schoolchildren from classes when there is an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease reported in a particular school. Two sets of parents whose children had religious exemptions sued New York City and the state in federal court when their children were temporarily excluded from school under the policy, in some cases for up to a month. In other words, they were demanding that their unvaccinated children be allowed to attend even though there was an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease at the school.

These cases were consolidated with another filed by parents, the Checks, who claimed their child had been improperly denied a religious exemption. The parents had applied for a medical exemption, which was denied, as well as a religious exemption, which was granted, but then revoked. (The record is somewhat confusing on this sequence of events, but that sequence is not relevant to our discussion.) The unvaccinated child was ultimately sent to a private school, even though she should have been excluded from admission under New York City law there as well.

Last week, a federal judge dismissed all three cases (they had been consolidated and assigned to one judge) in an opinion holding that neither the students’ nor the parents’ constitutional rights were violated, including their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. The plaintiffs have filed an appeal.

The New York Times provided some interesting stats as background for its story on the lawsuits. New York City schools granted 3,535 religious exemptions in 2012-13. Public and private schools in the city have an overall immunization rate of around 97 percent, but 37 private schools were below 70 percent. According to Daniel Salmon, deputy director at the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the rate of immunization necessary to maintain herd immunity for measles, which is highly contagious, is 95%.

(There are over 300 comments to the story. I couldn’t wade through all of them, but the supporters of vaccination and science were in a clear lead over the anti-vaxxers and pseudoscientific rhetoric when I left off. It was encouraging to see the SBM-style rejoinders posted against the same shop-worn arguments trotted out by the anti-vaxxers.)

A 1905 case defeats ideology (again)

No new legal ground was broken here. The court simply relied on well-established U.S. Supreme Court and appellate court precedent, including the 1905 Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts. It took the court less than 6 pages to dismiss the constitutional claims in their entirety for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (State law claims were dismissed as well, on jurisdictional grounds.) This means that, even accepting everything the plaintiffs said in their complaints as true, the plaintiffs cannot win. Metaphorically, they didn’t even make it to first base. They struck out entirely.

In fact, the case is interesting for being so uninteresting legally. We are so accustomed to hearing overwrought declarations of “parental rights” to make “informed choices” that we might forget just how solid the constitutional precedent is in upholding a state’s authority to require vaccination against disease to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare. States are not constitutionally required to allow non-medical exemptions at all. (Mississippi and West Virginia permit only medical, but not religious or philosophical, exemptions.)

That the court was able to so handily reject these claims is a testament to just how well-settled the law is in this area. It is also a demonstration of why anti-vaccination and other “parental rights” activists would love to haul Jacobson before the U.S. Supreme Court and argue that it should be overturned, or at least modified. The case (and its progeny, such as Prince v. Massachusetts) has served for over a century as a brake on parents who attempt to impose their religious and “philosophical” belief system at the risk of their children’s (and your) health. The case is an inconvenient barrier between them and their ideological goals.

For the record, in Jacobson, the Supreme Court upheld a $5 fine imposed by Massachusetts on a man who disobeyed an order to vaccinate during a smallpox outbreak. Jacobson’s claims were not unlike those we here from anti-vaccinationists to this day:

The defendant offered to prove that vaccination “quite often” caused serious and permanent injury to the health of the person vaccinated; that the operation “occasionally” resulted in death; that it was “impossible” to tell “in any particular case” what the results of vaccination would be or whether it would injure the health or result in death; that “quite often” one’s blood is in a certain condition of impurity when it is not prudent or safe to vaccinate him; that there is no practical test by which to determine “with any degree of certainty” whether one’s blood is in such condition of impurity as to render vaccination necessarily unsafe or dangerous; that vaccine matter is “quite often” impure and dangerous to be used, but whether impure or not cannot be ascertained by any known practical test; that the defendant refused to submit to vaccination for the reason that he had, “when a child,” been caused great and extreme suffering for a long period by a disease produced by vaccination; and that he had witnessed a similar result of vaccination not only in the case of his son, but in the case of others.

The Supreme Court specifically rejected a claim that Jacobson’s substantive due process rights were infringed and the case has subsequently been interpreted as precluding a First Amendment challenge to school vaccination mandates as well.

Attack of the “pharma trolls”

What is far more interesting than the legal issues is how the court record in the Check case reveals the extent to which anti-vaccine activism and the spread of misinformation is fueling parents’ fears, resulting in their decisions not to vaccinate and to claim exemptions for their children. (For the rest of this post, we’ll focus solely on the Check case.)

The Checks, as well as the other parents, were represented by Patricia Finn, an anti-vaccination activist/lawyer. According to her website, Patricia Finn, P.C., is “a Vaccine Injury and Exemption litigation firm” which “represents thousands of parents and children throughout the United States.” This has not escaped our friend Orac’s notice.

Ms. Finn is apparently reveling in the attention conferred on her by the Times story. One has to admire her cheerfulness in the face of a total loss in three cases, all on the same day. Here’s her June 23 entry on her Facebook page:

Time to respond to the pharma trolls pounding away at this story in the NY Times…please take a minute to comment with the real facts, and share this story with everyone you know…let’s flood the comments the same way they do with our proof…our stories. Bring It On!!*

“Pharma trolls” apparently being anyone whose comments in the Times do not reflect adherence to the anti-vaccination ideology.

Ms. Finn’s tendency to see Big Pharma as omnipotent is not limited to her Facebook page. From her blog, under the tab “Vaccination Law:”

The practice of vaccinating is dangerous. People are being deluged with vaccines because of fear mongering and profit. Mobilizing a global community to line up and inject should not be taken lightly, after all what if it is indeed weird science out of control, terrorism or maybe just a dose of bad shots because the contractors making and transporting the vaccines were skimming [sic] on ingredients, safety controls or refrigeration because it simply cost too much to adhere to pesky safety standards and formulas. Cutting corners might save a few bucks also. And what if the Pharma factory workers simply don’t like Americans and could care less if the shot is safe? The ProVax Choice community is not saying you can’t get the shot if you want it, but it is saying do so with caution because others could be affected.

I’ll rest my case with that quotation.

Her client, Dina Check, blames the devil instead of Big Pharma. She explained her opposition to vaccination to the Times thusly:

… she rejected vaccination after her daughter was ‘intoxicated’ by a few shots during infancy, which she said caused an onslaught of food and milk allergies, rashes and infections. Combined with a religious revelation she had during a difficult pregnancy, she said, the experience turned her away from medicine. Now she uses holistic treatments.

“Disease is pestilence,” Ms. Check said, “and pestilence is from the devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.

So, there you go. Your disease is your fault because you didn’t trust in the Lord. This type of thinking is, of course, prime raw material for making one into a poster child for the anti-vaccine movement. Other statements by Ms. Check made part of the court records reveal the hand of both the anti-vaccine misinformation machine and pseudomedicine as guiding her decisions.

(The name of Ms. Check’s child is redacted from the court’s records to protect her privacy, but she is referred to as “Mary” on Ms. Finn’s Facebook page, so that is what we will call her as well.)

According to the court records, Ms. Check says that Mary began life with medical problems, including what she describes as a “compromised immune system.” Apparently frustrated by conventional medicine, she turned to “holistic” medicine. She states that all vaccines contain “toxic chemicals that are injected into the bloodstream by vaccination” and views vaccination as “injecting diseases” and “poisons” into her daughter’s immune system, a view she repeats throughout the court record. She describes the vaccine manufacturing process as being “cultured on tissues from monkeys, chicks or aborted fetuses, which have produced antigens which cannot be filtered out.”

There are two interesting printed forms, at least one downloaded from the internet, all neatly typed up and complete with lines for signature and notarization, signed by the Checks and attached to their request for a religious exemption. In these, the Checks state that “one or more aspects of vaccination . . . are in violation of more or more doctrines of at least (5) of the world’s major religions.” The forms also make these alarming and utterly false statements:

It is an uncontested scientific fact that a minimum of 90% of today’s public health achievements originated in the improvements in sanitation, nutrition, hygiene and insect control which preceded both specific vaccination and antibiotics.

No adequate scientific study has ever proved that vaccines give a net benefit to the recipients. For certain diseases, it is beyond controversy that UNVACCINATED children have a considerable advantage over their vaccinated counterparts.

All vaccines are harmful and do not protect anyone form [sic] disease.

You’ll see some of these same ideas from an M.D. later in the record.

Although she describes herself and her family as deeply devout practicing Catholics, and the church’s teachings as the source of her religious objections to vaccination, Catholic doctrine does not, to my knowledge, prohibit or even discourage vaccination. In reading all of this, it is difficult to tell where the Checks’ genuine religious beliefs leave off and the incorporation of anti-vaccination junk science steps in to fill in the blanks.

In any event, the City denied the request because “it does not substantiate a finding that you hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to immunization.”

The medical experts weigh in

A request for a medical exemption from all required vaccinations for Mary was denied by the City as well, after a review by a Department of Health physician, because “the documentation provided by your child’s health care provider does not meet nationally recognized standards for medical contraindication of immunization.”

The medical exemption form was signed by a Michael Gabriel, M.D., and is all but illegible. It refers to “health problems related to foods” and “GI issues and illnesses,” but that is about all I could make out concerning his diagnosis.

There are only two MDs licensed to practice in NY named Michael Gabriel and I am betting Mary’s doctor is (or, at least, was) Michael E. Gabriel, who runs the PATH Family Center on Staten Island, where the Checks live. You are free to draw your own conclusions. According to its website, the Center offers integrative and nutritional interventions for individuals diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, food allergies and other related conditions. As well:

We discover the underlying problems through a series of lab tests. The team then creates a custom nutritional protocol with diet plans and integrative guides that begin the process of recovery, as well as offering educational guidance. We also offer Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy which is used for a variety of illnesses, including Lyme Disease, Microcephaly, Crush injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Cerebral Palsy, Autism and many more.

It is true that HBOT is used for a “variety of illnesses,” but this list suggests Dr. Gabriel is going way beyond the evidence.

Dr. Gabriel offers a “Bio Med 101” class:

In this class Dr. Gabriel will review what the concept of DAN [“Defeat Autism Now!”] is and how we will mix it with medicine. Dr. Gabriel will review the importance of the Gut and yeast overgrowth and the need for enzymes, probiotics, and a yeast protocol.

The Center also offers “detoxification,” although further information is not available on the website.

To top things off, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the court’s ruling. For some inexplicable reason, the Motion was filed after their Notice of Appeal, which divests the district court of jurisdiction over the case, a bit of procedural law duly noted by the judge in summarily denying the motion. Plaintiffs based this motion on “new evidence” including an “expert report” from Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD, an Israeli physician. (Dr. Schoenfeld has not escaped Orac’s notice either.)

As best I can tell, Dr. Schoenfeld thinks that the risk of an autoimmune response to vaccines is underrated and goes on to tell us why. I have no idea whether he is correct or not. I will leave that to others. However, he doesn’t come out and say that Mary is at risk from such a reaction, or explain what his explication of autoimmune response has to do with Mary’s case. Rather, he simply makes the conclusory statement that he agrees with Dr. Gabriel.

Whatever might be the merits of Dr. Schoenfeld’s other theories, he goes dead wrong with this one and jumps right in with the conspiracy crowd:

There is little proof that vaccines are responsible for eradicating disease even when heard [sic] immunity vaccination levels have been reached. . . . Long-range historical data shows that vaccines are not responsible for the decline of heath rates from infectious disease. . . Pertussis is now hot news and the unvaccinated interrupting herd immunity is raised over and over, despite the science that shows the vaccinated are by far and away the most affected by whooping cough. Evidence to the contrary of the value of vaccination is consistently snuffed out and kept away from the mainstream media, so that the herd never hears a peep of the truth. Instead, they get the “herd immunity” sound bite, which gives unserved credit to the risk-benefit ratio of vaccination. Inside the web of half-truth and misinformation, the vaccine advocates somehow justify the public display of resentment and fear of the unvaccinated.

As noted, an appeal has been filed. In a very similar 2010 case, one cited by the district court in this case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (where this case will be heard) ruled against the plaintiffs, who were represented by Ms. Finn. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thereby defeating Ms. Finn’s goal of getting rid of Jacobson and the long line of cases following it. No doubt she is hoping for a second bite at the apple here.

And what happens to Mary?

So there you have it. Mary Check, conscripted by adults as an underage foot soldier in the vaccine wars, some of whom are clearly driven by an anti-vaccination ideology that rests on a shaky foundation of bad science and Big Pharma conspiracy theory. Mary apparently has very real health issues, although it’s not clear what the diagnosis is, and yet she goes about unvaccinated against serious and potentially deadly diseases, such as polio, pertussis, hepatitis, tetanus, pneumonia, varicella, diphtheria, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, and meningitis. And she lives in New York City, where, probably more than anywhere else in the entire country, a vaccine-preventable disease is just a plane ride away. How could anyone possibly think this is in Mary’s best interests? I certainly don’t, but it’s not my call.

Posted in: Critical Thinking, Legal, Politics and Regulation, Public Health, Religion, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (104) ↓

104 thoughts on “NY federal court hands triple loss to anti-vaccination ideology

  1. Kathy says:

    I’m glad you emphasise that this is an ideology. The attempts to scientize anti-vaccination views are secondary. Like forcing the teaching creationism, this is hijacking of law to further an ideology, aka a religion without a god.

    1. BillyJoe says:

      emphasise (:
      scientize ):

  2. Alexis says:

    The wording of the law is briefly mentioned, but it’s worth noting that NYS’ religious exemption to vaccines may be the narrowest exemption in the country. It requires a religious objection to the practice of vaccination (not to specific vaccines–so, for example, you cannot say that you will not give the MMR because of the use of a fetal cell line). Further, the law provides (and courts have affirmed) that districts may use a sincerity test and grill you on your beliefs. A few years ago, a video was circulating of one such test.

    Unfortunately, private schools aren’t heavily policed. The Orthodox Jewish community has had outbreaks of mumps and measles.

    1. Alcharisi says:

      Specifically, I believe it’s some pockets of especially insular Hasidic communities that have had outbreaks. Modern Orthodox Jews, as a rule, tend to support science-based medicine. In fact, a good deal of MO bioethical literature states that all other things being equal, one in fact has a positive duty to seek out science-based care.

      1. David Gorski says:

        Indeed. My anecdotal experience: When I practiced in central NJ, from time to time I’d have orthodox Jews see me. Although I occasionally found the gender issues a little difficult to deal with (husband speaking for the wife frequently, my not being allowed to shake hands with the wife—remember, I’m a breast cancer surgeon), I don’t recall a single case of an Orthodox Jew opting for anything other than standard of care treatment and or even suggesting that she would be using anything other than standard medicine and surgery.

  3. Windriven says:

    I wonder what gives Ms. Finn cause to believe that SCOTUS would reverse Jacobson – or even agree to hear her case? Nothing in today’s post suggests new evidence or a compelling new argument. As I understand stare decis, absent at least one of those or new illumination from some other decision, the chances of reversal are essentially nil.

  4. KayMarie says:

    I found it interesting on NPR yesterday that that a group I thought wouldn’t vaccinate based on religious grounds is actually getting a lot of the kids vaccinated based on a recent outbreak of measles, the Amish

    My irony meter took a hit realizing that the Amish community was being far more reasonable and pragmatic than a lot of the people who have taken on the anti-vax movement as their religion.

    1. Sean Duggan says:

      The Amish are a pragmatic people. Some years back, I remember reading about a sudden upsurge in roller-blading among the Amish youth. The skates were judged to be a simple machine, and useful, and thus allowable.

  5. kompani101 says:

    I think the EU should seriously consider stopping none vaccinated people from entering any of its member countries. Why should our inhabitants, especially children, be put at risk from selfish ignorant people.

    1. Lawrence says:

      The EU doesn’t do a good job of vaccinating people already in those countries (places like Switzerland and France are notorious exporters of Measles)…..I would like to see requirements for people entering the US have up to date vaccinations – even US citizens returning from overseas.

    2. Frederick says:

      Don’t underestimate the anti-science movement In France, In fact, the whole GMO fear, EMF fear, are really strong in France.

      I follow French Skeptic site, Like, the web site of the AFIS ( association française d’information sciencetifique) And they have their own problem in that regard. And of course in Europe their a lot of country with different culture and politic all cramp together in a tight space, that does not help.

    3. simba says:

      I’d nearly say start with stopping unvaccinated people (without a valid medical reason) from exiting.

      That might mean that in European airports the number of unvaccinated people was a lot lower. Otherwise people will just travel elsewhere (bad for tourism), it’s less of a deterrent to our own unvaccinated people (they can still travel in other countries or stay at home and spread disease), and it comes across as xenophobic. It would seem like more of a good faith measure.

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      In many ways the EU embodies the antiscientific left more than the US. Science Left Behind made a point of discussing this. The EU applies the precautionary principle to a much less reasonable degree than the US, antivaccination is just as strong in many places, organic farming is treated as a panacea and GMO is opposed.

      Really what it comes down to is that people are people, and being rational is difficult wherever you go. Our brains don’t travel down that path easily. Skeptics are included, a point I like to continue to make – Elevatorgate for instance, and the eagerness to embrace Penn Jilette.

      1. Windriven says:

        Jesus William, please don’t revivify the Elevatorgate thread! Every time I see that word or the word circumcise I head for the bunker.

        But yeah, you make a really good point. Tribalism still trumps reason sometimes.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          The circumcision issue wasn’t a debate. Cut cock tastes better, argument won.

          Right Andrey? :P

          1. Jon says:

            Interestingly enough…


            This dude was arrested in 2012. He’s been at it since 1966, and his defense for possession of child porn was “I haven’t looked at it in over 40 years.”

  6. lilady says:

    “New York City has a policy of excluding unvaccinated schoolchildren from classes when there is an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease reported in a particular school. ”

    New York City is not the only jurisdiction which excludes schoolchildren from classes when there is an outbreak of a V-P-D reported in a particular school.

    All States and all local health departments should be following the CDC Guidelines as contained in the “Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases” following these guidelines

  7. Frederick says:

    I have read the NYtime article yesterday, That women “view” and “revelation” about diseases is freaking creeping, scary and downright mad. Poor kids, They will live a sick life.

    I don’t care that you are religious, go ahead. But why those people can not view medicine and science as a gift form their god? If we follow their logic, God made everything, so he also made the human brain and mind. He gave us curiosity and the ability to understand things, so why medicine is evil to some of them? I know the majority of those people are not like that, but still, that is not a religious excuse, it is madness.
    She had a delirium crisis, during pregnancy, but when you are religious you can said it was a revelation, when it was total hallucination , I’m sorry Madame but what you said and think is borderline criminal toward you kids.

    1. Frederick says:

      What astound me the most, his that lawyers have absolutely 0 knowledges about science ans vaccine. what she said on her website is delusional.
      If you become a lawyers specialize in one area, is not legally mandatory to KNOW, about the thing your are talking about? If I wanted to sue a car company, and I want use a lawyer specialize in that area, I will hope he knows cars at least as much as i do ( well I know a lot about cars and the physic/chemistry related to it, so maybe a little less than me, but still know what a freaking engine is).
      Otherwise it will like going to a car dealership. I remember couple of times talking to salesmen about , for example, the steering ratio of the cars, and I was explaining which technical aspect of the cars I like/dislike compare to other models, and the guys look at you with zombie eyes ( “I have no Idea what you are talking about” ). If i ever encounter a lawyer that give me that look of the subject I needed him/her to know about… bye bye.

      In that regard, Madame Bellamy ( which sound like Belle amie in french lol) his a great example of what good a lawyer should be.
      Thank for the good great article.

      1. Jann Bellamy says:

        Thank you for the compliment. I don’t know the origin of the name, although it’s my understanding that the Bellamy family came from France to escape persecution of French Huguenots.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Some of the best discussions and take-downs of bad science I’ve seen came from lawyers. The discussion of of the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial for instance (Monkey Girl is a fantastic book on the topic, reads like a novel) demonstrated just how valuable an incisive legal mind can be in paring down facts and arguments to expose what is true, valid, logical and factual in an argument or even paradigm. The lawyers for the Buckeys at the McMartin trial also did a good job.

        But lawyers are people, and people are flawed, and thus susceptible to fallacies and illogic. The slow but relentless grind of a courtroom can be incredibly useful at arriving at a truth that verges on scientific in some cases.

  8. Mike says:

    I’ve been noticing more and more this argument that the vaccinated are at greater risk for infectious disease, and here Schoenfeld even specifically cites pertussis. Is there some study that they’re all (mis?)-referencing?

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      In an outbreak, the NUMBERS of vaccinated people who catch the disease will be higher than the numbers of unvaccinated people who catch the disease, simply because the great majority have been vaccinated. (The protection from vaccines is not 100%, and immunity wanes over time.) The proper way to look at it is to compare the RATE of infection, which is clearly higher in the unvaccinated than in the unvaccinated. The claim is a perfect example of lying with statistics to support an agenda.

      1. rork says:

        Yeah I spotted that line and figured it was the same famous use of bad math. I’m not sure they knew they were lying though, perhaps just repeating the famous checkmate they heard about.

    2. Chris says:

      It is a misinterpretation of the numbers. In reality the unvaxed have a greater risk (over 20 times) of getting pertussis: Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children. It says: “Vaccine refusers had a 23-fold increased risk for pertussis when compared with vaccine acceptors, and 11% of pertussis cases in the entire study population were attributed to vaccine refusal.”

      Also, immunity for pertussis does wane after a while (so go get a Tdap when you get your ten year tetanus booster). But that also happens when you actually get pertussis and spend three months coughing your lungs out. It is unrealistic to think the vaccine should provide better immunity than the disease.

      From Duration of immunity against pertussis after natural infection or vaccination.: “Protective immunity after infection was probably never lifelong and wanes after 7–20 years. Duration of immunity after either wP or aP immunization does not appear to substantially differ and likely lasts 4–12 years in children.”

      To illustrate here is some community immunity arithmetic:

      Take 1000 people (ignoring the infants under 2 months who cannot be vaccinated, or babies under a year who can only be partially vaccinated), if 5% refuse vaccines then the numbers are:

      950 vaccinated persons (assuming full schedule)
      50 unvaccinated persons

      The pertussis vaccine is actually only 80% effective at worse, so the numbers are:

      760 protected persons
      190 vaccinated but vulnerable persons
      50 unvaccinated persons

      There is an outbreak and it gets spread to 20% of the population, then:

      760 protected persons without pertussis

      38 vaccinated persons get pertussis
      152 vaccinated person who may still get pertussis

      10 unvaccinated persons get pertussis
      40 unvaccinated persons who may still get pertussis.

      This is how more vaccinated persons get the disease than unvaccinated. Even if the infection rate was at 100%, there would still be more of the vaccinated getting the diseases because there are more of them!

      1. MTDoc says:

        Beautiful explanation. Wish I could get the point across to the misinformed. By the way, there is a back door to the pertussis problem. We no longer have the plain tetanus toxoid available for the adult who steps on a nail. So they get Tdap anyway! The problem now is to get midlevels, who have never seen a case of tetanus, to give a booster to someone “if the wound bleeds well.” Perhaps I’m being unfair to midlevels here, but a recent incident brought this home to me.

        1. Chris says:

          Thank you.

      2. Frederick says:

        That’s excellent, But when you brakes that In % the rate are higher of unvax are higher. So once again there are wrong

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Also, immunity for pertussis does wane after a while (so go get a Tdap when you get your ten year tetanus booster). But that also happens when you actually get pertussis and spend three months coughing your lungs out. It is unrealistic to think the vaccine should provide better immunity than the disease.

        Indeed, by picking pertussis, a bit of a special case as a disease and a vaccine, the argument becomes deceptive. Pertussis is a special case where the vaccine is sub-optimal even in the best of circumstances, and doesn’t represent circumstances for most other vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s like judging all Germans based on their leadership from 1930-1945.

        Godwin for the win!

        1. Chris says:

          “Indeed, by picking pertussis, a bit of a special case as a disease and a vaccine, the argument becomes deceptive.”

          Exactly. Also they don’t quite use that argument for both tetanus and diphtheria, because even if you survive either disease you can get again almost immediately.

          Of course, many of those arguing that the DTaP vaccine is worthless against pertussis because immunity wanes often don’t realize that ten year tetanus boosters exist! Case in point was Sara Pope, the self-proclaimed “healthyhomeeconomist”, who claimed: “When my Dad was in medical school, he was taught that vaccine induced immunity lasted a lifetime like natural immunity.” Horrible woman, and worse website.

          1. Kathleen says:

            Another thing that has been coming up a lot is that even you are vaccinated you can still spread pertussis. I believe that there has only been one study published on this but they mentioned it on This week in Microbiology over a year ago. I have been seeing anti-vax using it as the reason why pertussis is at an all time high rather then vaccination rates. The answer is complicated and there are flaws with the vaccine but overall it is very effective at control.

    3. lagaya1 says:

      It’s like in states with strict helmet laws for motorcyclists. There will be many more who die wearing helmets than those who are not wearing them. But only because almost everyone is wearing a helmet, and they can’t protect against everything.

      1. Jon says:

        Not quite. If you could opt not to wear a helmet, or if you couldn’t wear one for some reason, but everyone else wore one, you’d still be in danger of crashing.

        Vaccines also protect people who, due to a compromised immune system, can’t actually get a vaccine, since they’re less likely to be exposed to the germ.

        Yes, this makes anti-vaxxers parasites.

  9. lilady says:

    I worked as a public health nurse clinician-epidemiologist at a large suburban health department-division of communicable diseases control and we had full cooperation with the Principals and school nurses in parochial schools, to implement NY State Law to exclude non vaccinated children from school during a V-P-D outbreak.

    NY State Education Law provides funding for private/religious schools for school nurses, psychologists, special education teachers/therapists, all textbooks with the exception of religious texts and bus transportation to and from home to the religious school. There may be religious/private schools who fly under the radar, but they are not representative of the vast majority of religious/private schools who are in compliance with NY State Education Law and NY State Department of Health Law.

    Just for laughs; Patricia Finn was a presenter at the Autism One Quackfest and provided a short interview, where she speaks about the “pending” lawsuit:

  10. Eldric IV says:

    Although she describes herself and her family as deeply devout practicing Catholics, and the church’s teachings as the source of her religious objections to vaccination, Catholic doctrine does not, to my knowledge, prohibit or even discourage vaccination.

    Catholic doctrine will not directly address vaccines, so Catholics have to rely on the indirect instruction from other teachings. I could write a book on this but I will distill it down very briefly:

    1. The social justice teachings of the Church and the unequivocal teaching that we are responsible for our neighbor and not only ourselves overwhelmingly supports receiving recommended immunizations for the sake of personal and public health, almost to the point of moral duty.

    2. The only legitimate Catholic objection to vaccination regards those vaccines derived through the use of aborted fetal tissue. Even here, however, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith approved a report by the Pontifical Academy of Life that, while ultimately leaving the decision to the individual, heavily favors receipt of vaccination for the public health benefits (until such time as an alternative vaccine becomes available).

    3. Some Catholics may try to argue exemption by conscience. However, most Catholics who would use such an argument forget that the Church teaches Catholics are FIRST beholden to correctly inform their conscience and formulate judgements according to reason. As Catholics have a responsibility toward the wellbeing of others and as the risks of routine vaccination are greatly outweighed by the benefits to public health (barring those few with medical contraindications), I refer to point 1 above.

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Funny enough I actually came to say basically this. One of the few medical things that the Catholics actually got right. The Vatican still officially says that Catholics may choose not to get immunizations from vaccines that involve fetal cell lines but “strongly urges” them to weigh that in consideration of the public health impact. Basically they are letting people decide whether their revulsion over the idea of fetal cell lines overwhelms their feelings of duty to the health and safety of their children and the community and condoning either decision. I suppose that is sort of a big deal for them from a religious standpoint.

      I do wish they’d say the same thing about condoms in Africa though.

      1. Windriven says:

        “I do wish they’d say the same thing about condoms in Africa though.”

        What, and jeopardize a steady stream of new altar boys?

  11. rork says:

    Not about vaccines, but about law: “hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs”
    I hate this stuff. Someone thinks they can (and should!) define what is and what is not a religious belief? Someone thinks they can (and should!) measure the sincerity of my beliefs? Someone thinks they can distinguish where philosophy ends and religion begins? I find the state meddling in such questions to be frightening, and the passing of laws about it to be idiotic. Even if I am the only one in the U.S.A. who listens for signs from Smoke Magic Woman and the Spirits of Rot, or who thinks that (what I’d call a) religion is all obviously making-stuff-up, is that inferior to some more popular belief?
    Mine is the church of the one and only, me.

    1. Lytrigian says:

      If you can’t draw some kind of boundary around religion, then the First Amendment becomes a kind of “anything goes” rule that had the potential to undermine all kinds of government regulation. So not only can religion be distinguished from non-religion in law, it must be.

      1. Windriven says:

        “then the First Amendment becomes a kind of “anything goes” rule that had the potential to undermine all kinds of government regulation.”

        And today, SCOTUS will give us their thoughts on this when they release their ruling on Hobby Lobby.

        1. Lytrigian says:

          They did that today, and in favor of Hobby Lobby. I guess they tried to keep the scope narrow to “closely held corporations” — that is, nearly all small businesses, so that’s not particularly narrow — and Ginsberg’s dissent describes exactly why this is a problem.

          Well. It was a 5-4 decision, so it’s possible that under a slightly less conservative court it won’t stand up.

          1. Windriven says:

            ” It was a 5-4 decision, so it’s possible that under a slightly less conservative court it won’t stand up.”

            I dunno. Stare decis and all that. I haven’t read the opinions yet but intend to as I have a hard time understanding how religious objection to abortifacient contraception is tolerated but religious objection to blood transfusion isn’t. That is a rather fine line it seems.

            In any event there is an easy enough solution with the government stepping in to fill the breach* where companies claim the exemption. I’ve no idea what the cost would be but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t seem as if it could be much.

            *And this, I think, will be the long term drift of ACA with the federal government picking up increasing parts of the load until – decades from now – the landscape has a more European look with private insurance mostly covering heroics.

  12. David Gorski says:

    Although she describes herself and her family as deeply devout practicing Catholics, and the church’s teachings as the source of her religious objections to vaccination, Catholic doctrine does not, to my knowledge, prohibit or even discourage vaccination.

    Correct. The Catholic Church does not prohibit vaccination and, in fact, encourages it:

    And, from the horse’s mouth itself (i.e., the Catholic Church):

    1. Frederick says:

      The Pontifical Science academy also support GMO! I’M a atheist born catholic, so YEAH, For once I like my old religion! ( technically I’m still a catholic)

      1. David Gorski says:

        I like to refer to myself as a “cultural Catholic,” the same way some Jews who don’t really believe refer to themselves as “cultural Jews.” Interestingly, I went to my cousin’s Confirmation a few months ago, the first time I’d been inside of a church for years, and I still found the ceremony as moving as I used to, even though I knew there wasn’t anything behind it. If there’s one thing Catholics do well, it’s ceremony and spectacle.

        1. Windriven says:

          High mass at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is an artwork not to be missed.

        2. n brownlee says:

          Like- Dara O’Briain?

          1. Windriven says:

            Funny guy! I too was raised Catholic. Now I’m as rock-ribbed an atheist as you’re likely to find. But I heartily agree with Dr. Gorski; the Catholics may bollox plenty but they have the pomp and spectacle down cold.

            I always try to catch mass at a cathedral when I’m in Europe. Forget the religious stuff. Just go for the show. And read up a bit on the history of the very early Church. Early on the Church adopted many pagan rites and festivals (remember that Jesus was – and always thought himself – a Jew. But Christianity was co-opted by Emperor Constantine who gathered the many squabbling sects together at the Council of Nicea (from whence the Nicene Creed) and forced a common doctrine) and ultimately converted the Empire to Christianity. Think about that as the priest moves solemnly up the aisle at the head of a phalanx of acolytes and altar boys, swinging the censer to chase off evil spirits.

            1. n brownlee says:

              If you want a look at something very close to the earliest church rituals- attend a Russian or Eastern Orthodox Easter mass. It’s like time travel.

              1. Windriven says:

                A close friend growing up was raised in the Orthodox Church – though he was no more a believer than I. But I never went with him. My interest in churches of any sort came much later and for cultural rather than religious reasons. But if I find myself in an Eastern European country around Easter I’ll definitely go.

                Cathedrals astonish me. They took decades to build and huge fortunes. Yet enough people thought it a good enough idea to do it. I guess I’m hoping someday to figure out why.

              2. simba says:

                I was travelling in France while reading A Tale of Two Cities. At one stage we were in a small vault under a church and looking at this amazing collection of beautiful gold chalices from before the revolution. They were stunning, inspiring works of art.

                But at the same time they were sitting in churches there was a famine, widespread hunger, people were fighting in the marketplaces for food. Why didn’t someone put the two together and just sell off everything they could to feed people- in a religion which has ‘feeding people’ pretty well established as a necessity in its holy texts? And then it’s incredibly surprising when the people decide to riot and turn against the church.

                I’m not of the opinion that religion is the root of all evil, or of conflict- I reckon it’s usually land, bread, or not enough work. But it just makes no sense.

        3. Andrey Pavlov says:

          Perfectly understandable.

          Me on the other hand, having never once believed and pretty much always thought it was all at least a little weird, find myself distinctly uncomfortable at religious ceremonies. The last one I went to was my landlord’s funeral 2.5 years ago. Both my fiance and I were uncomfortable and a bit upset at the Catholic Mass. We felt the priest was basically just trying to sell the religion and said damned near nothing about the deceased. We couldn’t help but perceive it as a garish hard sell at a most inappropriate time.

          The time before that was sometime in my mid-teens. It was the 25th wedding anniversary of some family friends and we all went for their renewal of vows. I still didn’t fully “get it” back then, but went into it mostly cheery. By the end I felt very uncomfortable and distinctly remember feeling like I was in a Borg cube when everyone would say the same word in unison.

          To be clear, absolutely nothing wrong with being “cultural” whatever. And absolutely obvious reasons why it would still remain profound and comforting for many people. Just sharing my perspective on how incredibly alien it all seems to me (and my better half).

          1. n brownlee says:

            I have no religion- “cultural” or otherwise. Raised in a crackpot Xtian cult (Jehovah’s Witnesses), I spent ages 12-14 shucking the mess. Catholicism is no less alien to me than Bahai, really, and I don’t go to services if I can get out of it- weddings and funerals, mainly. But the historical aspect is always fascinating- I couldn’t travel without seeing cathedrals, tiny Norman churches, Hindu temples- religion is culture, and it is human history, inseparable. I don’t bow my head, and I don’t pray. I took my shoes off in mosques. I feel much the same way when people are saluting the flag, by the way.

            1. Windriven says:

              Many, many moons ago I met a girl who was JW and desperately wanted to get in her pants. But she had not spent her early teens “shucking the mess” and consequently I had no success shucking her jeans. One more reason to hate religion ;-)

        4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Cultural Christian. I celebrate Christmas (which is to say, I share presents between myself, friends and family), eat ham at Easter during my four-day weekend, really, really like the music composed for sacred masses, and absolutely love all manner of Christian architecture. I feel far more for, say, Rome or Paris than I do for Beijing, Angkor Wat or the Taj Mahal, even without the investment of any extra learning.

          I find most of the ceremonies boring and the only movement I feel is when a group action takes place. But the culture behind it does speak to me.

          1. Windriven says:

            I once got up at 4 in the morning in Stockholm to attend a Santa Lucia ceremony at a Lutheran church. A girl of about 12 wearing a crown of burning candles leads a procession down the center aisle of the church to organ music and the singing of the throng following her. Quite something to see.

            But you know the Lutherans threw the baby out with the pope by going all austere with their churches. Jesus Martin, loosen up the purse strings and buy some gold leaf.

          2. n brownlee says:

            JWs don’t celebrate anything- no holidays, secular or religious, not even birthdays. I celebrate everything. Xmas, Thanksgiving, Diwali, Kwanzaa, you name it. I like a good dinner and a drink and another drink and twinkly lights and a party.

            I’ve still never had a birthday party. I mean, for me.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              The sad thing is, it’s a waste to start when you’re a grown-up with a job. By then, you can already buy anything you really want.

              I’ve never found much to admire about birthdays beyond presents and a chance to sleep in, but then again I am a man.

            2. simba says:

              For some reason my first instinct was to say “I’ll throw you a birthday party!”
              I think I’m forgetting I’m on the internet today, and not talking to local people who I actually know.

              1. n brownlee says:

                Thank you, Simba! The thought is very much appreciated.

  13. Lytrigian says:

    But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.

    Of course, in an era when more people in Europe trusted in the Lord than at any time in recent history, 1/3 of everyone between India and Scandinavia were wiped out by the Black Death. So we see where that gets you.

    1. MTDoc says:

      If they only had more cats! But there was a superstition about cats which went against allowing the numbers that might have saved millions of lives. Just one more example of ignorance and superstition (?religion) interfering with critical thinking. Not that they had the information available at the time to deal with the problem. I personally would have favored a rat killing dog, but I like cats too. I wonder how we will handle ebola when it leaves the African continent.

      1. Amelia says:

        At the current rate of outbreak, I think we’ve got a good chance of it happening sooner vs later.

  14. thor says:

    I see this law as a wonderful way to protect those without protection from immunizations. However, I think they are excluding the children too late. It would make sense to me that the time to bar the children from public schools is before the outbreak occurs. Most likely the pt zero would be the very child getting banned after the fact.

  15. Emily68 says:

    But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.

    Back in approx. 1957, I infected my whole Sunday School class with measles. But then, it was the Unitarian Church, so that’s probably what Ms. Check will see as what caused the illness.

    1. Calli Arcale says:

      In the 1980s, I brought chicken pox in to my school, the social group my family belonged to, and my church — and my pox erupted on Easter morning, of all days. All because I had babysat a couple of kids with chickenpox, which I’d done because I’d already had the disease as an infant.

      So much for natural immunity. :-/

      1. Jon says:

        Oh, one of my friends gave us all chickenpox. (This was like, 1990.) Let me tell you, the only thing worse than that constant itching…is all the deadlier infectious diseases that are being brought back, thanks to Jenny McCarthy and her buddies.

  16. brewandferment says:

    strangely enough, while cleaning out a box of stuff in the basement I found a section of my local paper from early 2007 that had fallen down behind it. In one of the bullets about interior contents was a mention of a lawsuit regarding vaccination exemptions in upstate NY. So I turned to the article and found that it was the same attorney; and get this–the parents cited a similar quotation from Exodus. The mother observes at least one Catholic tradition (avoiding meat on Friday) but the father’s religion is not mentioned. I wonder if that’s the 2010 case mentioned? I’ll have to dig a bit just out of curiosity now.

  17. Eldric IV says:

    We felt the priest was basically just trying to sell the religion and said damned near nothing about the deceased. We couldn’t help but perceive it as a garish hard sell at a most inappropriate time.

    It is unfortunate that it came across that way. While the funeral mass is held in memory of the deceased, the focus of the mass (funeral or otherwise) is always God. The priest may make brief remarks about the deceased during the homily or invite a friend/relative of the deceased to make brief remarks during the concluding rite; however, the standard practice of reciting a eulogy is actually forbidden during a funeral mass (the proper place for a eulogy is at the wake or the burial or otherwise outside of the mass).

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:


      I have no doubt that the priest was doing what he was supposed to be doing. But for us, it was just very off-putting. If we had actually been raised in it and expected that to happen, then I’m certain it would have been different. But to us it was just like the priest was taking advantage of a grieving time in order to remind you that you should be faithful to the church. Which, actually, makes perfect sense that that was what the priest was supposed to do, from the Machiavellian standpoint of the church.

  18. Windriven says:

    Eldric made the point, obvious when one thinks about it, that the worship service is focused on god rather than the deceased. This is one of the things that I really don’t get about some religions: the deity’s expectation of worship. An entity that is all knowing and all powerful (but is he faster than a speeding bullet?) whose idea of a good time is a bunch of naked apes gathering together to chant, ‘oh yeah, you da man!’ Really? Am I alone in thinking that to be a pretty shallow deity? Manuel Noriega as king of kings?

    This leads to absurdities where one batch doesn’t hold their mouths in just the right way being marked for slaughter by another bunch who believe in the exact same deity and 95% the same dogma. How effed up is that? Not that Christianity didn’t go through a similar period of internecine slaughter, the embers of which still glow in parts of Ireland.

    Anyway, the point is that to my mind any deity worthy of the name wouldn’t give .000317 of a $hit about being worshipped in the first place.

    A friend died last summer and his wife convened a bunch of us at a bar in Portland where we ate and drank and told Tony stories. There was sadness but it was leavened with the joy of remembering a life well lived. No church service. If the deity was pissed, he kept it to himself.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      In my family, we are not churchgoers and we have never felt the need for formal ceremonies that most people seem to feel. When my father died, there was no funeral or memorial service. His body was donated to the medical school; when they were finished with it they cremated it and put the ashes in the cemetery they used for that purpose. When summer rolled around, my mother and all of his children remembered him with a family trip to Mt. Rainier National Park in his honor. It was the place he had probably loved above all others; he had taken the family there on a day trip at least once a year when we were growing up. We have a concept of “life after death” that doesn’t involve Heaven or reincarnation; as my pre-school daughter told me, “He’s not dead, he still lives in our hearts.”

      1. Windriven says:

        ” “He’s not dead, he still lives in our hearts.””

        I love that. I told my grandmother something similar when she was dying, that she would live as long as my heart beat.

  19. Jon says:

    I don’t get the ‘religious exemption’ thing. Is this a thing? Like, there are people out there with religious objections to vaccines?

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Very much a thing, at least in the US. Reasons vary from “vaccines grown in aborted fetal cell cultures” (true, but deceptive), to “trust God’s plan”, to “I’m going to pretend I’m religious to avoid vaccinating my kid.”

    2. Jann Bellamy says:

      For more information about religious exemptions and what various religions teach see: The bottom line is that most “religious” objections aren’t based on theology but are really philosophical objections.

  20. Lizzy says:

    I’ve read a lot of these pro-vax articles and I definitely agree with them
    But I had a question on crunchy parenting
    Is there anything to this whole “You gotta hold your newborn all damn day long or else”
    BS people keep trying to feed me?
    I want to get a baby swing for my new born. More specifically an uppity Rockaroo because it has good reviews and I would have liked something like this before for my other 3. Because YES I want to place the baby down.
    Anyway the second I mentioned I am getting one a crunchy anti-science nut told me I should consider baby wearing.
    Which SEEMS TOTALLY irrelevant to putting the infant in a swing or some device like that. why would i hang out like a kangaroo all day long? I have responsibilities in my house that require my attention without a big ass obstacle in the way. But t hey insist that I’m a supreme dumb ass for not considering hopping around like a kangaroo or an African mom and carrying a kid all doo da day long.

    Then I got moms who are against my friends and myself being induced AFTER we go over our due date because “Its not for medical reasons you should hold out”
    They want us to wait to 42-43 weeks and let baby come on his own even though it just doesn’t always work like that.

    THEN the “Kids shouldn’t have hot dogs or they will develop leukemia” is the newest nut job scam running around social media.

    I need to reevaluate who I associate with because its really dumb but
    Any articles on ANY of the aforementioned topics would HELP a ton.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Is there anything to this whole “You gotta hold your newborn all damn day long or else” BS people keep trying to feed me?

      It’s a big part of Attachment Parenting, brought to you by Dr. Sears and his pathological lack of a relationship with his own mother that he has attempted to recast in to a rigid form of child rearing that essentially guarantees the mother will never work again (if nothing else than because she was exhausted). It’s based on what African (or South American, somewhere “primitive”) tribeswomen do so they can go work in the field right afterwards. There’s probably something about kangaroo care going on in there too (which I would love to see a critical analysis of). I’ve known several friends who have attempted to foster independence in their children by letting them play independently, but sadly every single one grew up into a serial killer. Oh, hold on, no, that’s what Sears says will happen, but doesn’t.

      If you want an excellent and reassuring book about child rearing, I would strongly, strongly recommend Baby Meets World by Nicholas Day (and the supplementary posts on Slate. It’s not a how-to book. Far from it. It’s a summary of past how-to books (and cultural practices throughout history) that took their parenting advice for granted as the only way to raise a kid so they wouldn’t be a serial killer or masturbator. Great book, and it goes a long way towards supporting his thesis – love and feed your kid, little else matters.

      Another great source of snark and science is the Skeptical OB Amy Tuteur, who has a thing about hating Attachment Parenting. Which has nothing to do with Attachment Theory by the way, or Attachment Therapy (only one of which is scientific, the other being kinda terrifying). Here is a post about attachment parenting, but not specifically baby wearing.

      Lots of people hate Dr. Tuteur, she doesn’t mince words and she works solely with the scientific data. I love her.

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        IMHO attachment parenting is parent abuse.

        1. Chris says:

          So is thinking the kids should get vaccine preventable diseases, in a sense. I really really had a bad time when my kids got chicken pox, especially since one was only six months old. There was at least two weeks where I did not get more than couple of hours of sleep at a time.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          I can’t see attachment parenting as anything but training your child to be neurotic, codependent, lack self-confidence, initiative and self-care skills. I see it as nothing more than a way of a mother attempting to raise a child so infantile they, the mother, never has to worry about assuming any other role in life.

          Chris Bobel’s Paradox of Natural Mothering did an OK job of discussing this. Short, but could have been better.

          1. Lizzy says:

            Okay because I am against attachment parenting. I don’t even breast feed because I’m such a jerk

            Actually I don’t breastfeed because I can’t.

            Do y’all have anything on
            “Hotdogs cause leukemia” That’s going around with the neurotic “natural” parents?

            I never did attachment parenting at all and my kids seem okay to me. Healthy, kinda weird but healthy, and funny, and independent. I tried to co-sleep at the advice of a co-sleeping crunchy mom
            And my kid kicked me in the face and cried so when i put him in his own bed he slept a LOT better and i still had my face all in one piece in the morning.

            Now I want to get stuff to allow me to do my housework like SWINGS and bouncers and stuff and this woman was like
            “You should consider baby wearing”
            So I asked her to explain why I should and she didn’t ever tell me. She doesn’t even have kids. I guess that’s one advantage is if you don’t have kids you can imagine how easy it is going to be to reaise them so you suppose that one will be able to wear a baby all day, vacuum, chase down toddlers, make food for a family of 6, clean and fold laundry, bathe kids etc all while wearing a 10 lb kid on your stomach. The reason I give birth is to STOP wearing my kid.

            But attachment parenting is one of the most annoying concepts I’ve ever heard of in my life.

            Besides eating organic and GFCF diets I think attachment parenting is annoying.

            I don’t dig the new wave parenting.

            1. Lizzy says:

              I don’t eat organic, or have a special diet influenced by woo, I don’t buy homeopathy, my kids get all their vaccines when they are supposed to exactly on schedule, I take my drugs as prescribed, I have nothing to do with essential oils and any other woo living.

              I let my kids eat hotdogs like once every couple months but only because I am a housewife I have more time to prepare a variety of meals so I don’t HAVE to grab and go with hotdogs.

              I brush my kids teeth with fluoride toothpaste (that kills new age hipsters)

              I buy eggs from the grocery store

              I don’t attachment parent
              I don’t co sleep
              I don’t cloth diaper (sorry environmentalists I can’t do it. No skillz~)
              I breastfed my first 3 but after the last two I couldn’t breastfeed past 6 months.
              And this time I won’t even attempt its too emotional for me and I feel like I’m being beaten.
              I support a woman’s right to choose an epidural when she’s in labor (Forbid that!!)
              And if a woman tells me she’s getting induced at her doctor’s reccomendation I’m like “Good for you”
              But there are SOO many anti-vax, anti-pain relief, anti- c-section, anti-formula moms in the world its like you get a golden ticket for birthing in a bath tub these days.

              I birth in a hospital and since I had an allergic reaction to SOMETHING in the epidural i cannot get it anymore.

              I actually hear women telling other women not to get induced because “Your body will do what its supposed to on its own”
              Which is WHY inductions are a big reason maternal and fetal death have decreased since the introduction of medical intervention. But lets ignore that because it WILL do what its supposed to do.
              Women get clomid and other fertility treatments because their bodies do exactly what they want all the time, right?

              You can’t talk to these people. I remember almost falling for the “ancient chinese secret” so to speak then Idid some research because it sounded odd a lot and didn’t make sense…
              But those who are so far gone will remain far gone you can’t change them with logic. I tried.

              1. Chris says:

                I think that is called “competitive mothering.” There is a reason why I spell the magazine that promoted lots of that nonsense “sMothering.” I bought one copy of that rag in the mid-1990s, saw what kind of nonsense it had and promptly tossed it into the recycle bin.

                Here is the thing, even if you much of that stuff, if your kid has any kind of medical issue the only reason they can see is that you, the imperfect parent, did something wrong. My son had seizures when he was two days old. I was actually told his seizures were caused by drinking cow’s milk. I explained that he was being breastfed, so then the story was because I had drank the evil cow milk.

                Then someone told me it was because of getting epidural. This is not a bragging thing, because I dearly wanted one, but each time the nurse anesthetist would come in and see I was not dilated enough, but by the time he explained everything I was too dilated! One woman kept insisting the seizures were due to something I never had, so I finally asked her what her epidural was like, “was it nice?” End of conversation.

                To listen to another rant by a mother who can relate to your frustration, and I recall that means being asked to not counter the crunchy crazies in an atheist group, check out this podcast:

              2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Hi Lizzy,

                If I might offer some repetitive advice:

                1) Seriously, check out the Skeptical OB
                2) Seriously, read Baby Meet World
                3) If you are still having some anguish about breastfeeding, you could read Is Breast Best? by Joan Wolf and Bottled Up by Suzanne Barston (who blogs at the Fearless Formula Feeder). The former is very scholarly (and fascinating), the latter much more popular and much less detail. They might make you angry since they undercut quite strongly the emphasis placed on breastfeeding.

                On this site, you would probably also enjoy Clay Jones’ posts, he’s a pediatrician who hates nonsense.

            2. Chris says:

              “Okay because I am against attachment parenting. I don’t even breast feed because I’m such a jerk”

              “I don’t dig the new wave parenting.”

              Go get the audio book version of Tina Fey’s book Bossypants. It is read by her, and you must listen to the absolute snark she has for “Teat Nazis.”

  21. Candi says:

    I like the NYC decision. There’s a reason why vaccines were developed, and that’s the sheer damage these diseases do, the mental and physical disabilities they bring. The parents not vaccinating the kids increases their chances for death and disability. No matter how many adaptations society makes culturally, socially, physically, and mentally, the handicapped are limited in some way, and that can affect their quality of life.

    My mother’s family has a heavy incidence of ASDs and Asperger’s Syndrome. (I think AS was moved in with the other ASDs a couple years ago.) This includes possible cases from the last couple centuries from before widespread vaccination, unfortunately unable to be determined since people had yet to realize what they were seeing. I myself have adult-diagnosed (by a doctor) Asperger’s Syndrome.

    Because of this, I had both my kids tested up the wazoo for ASDs due to the high risk. Neither are affected, and both are fully vaccinated, including the ‘recommended’ ones.

    As for “Attachment Parenting” and all those: I fed my kids both breast milk and formula. I had epidurals with both. My son raised on commercial baby food, my daughter on natural stuff from the blender (my roommate’s idea). Neither seems to have made for an appreciable difference. I put them down to play or in the crib. As they got older, I let them go outside and get dirty. I gave them apple chips and watermelon for snacks instead of cookies to establish a habit of seeing healthy food as ‘just something you do’, looking to the future when they would choose their own food. (I *cringe* at these recipes advising hiding vegetable in dishes so that you don’t have to argue with the kid over eating them. “I said so” should be good enough.) I let them climb trees and make their own mistakes while they’re young and the consequences can be solved with a hug and a bandaid. They both drink milk.

    I have two very confident kids that always surprise doctors and nurses with their no-allergies status, and who will ask for an apple as often as a chocolate bar for a treat at the store. They sometimes drive their teachers nuts by knowing more than them, yet not putting in the effort to do their classwork. (We’re working on that.) They help with the chores, and will finish off fruit trays bought as a side to ‘busy-day’ dinners. I explain why they have to do or not do things, or why they should or shouldn’t, and the consequences of good and bad choices. Although in the end, until they’re 18, “because I said so” still stands.

    1. simba says:

      Half the key to getting kids to eat vegetables is to COOK VEGETABLES PROPERLY. Can’t tell you how many times as a kid I was shocked at other people’s houses by the terrible veg, or how many times we converted someone to spinach/other hated vegetables.

      Newsflash, if your spinach is grey after cooking, there might be a reason no-one eats it besides ‘kids don’t like spinach’, or “my kids are just so fussy”.

  22. Carolyn says:

    It is insane that you have no rights to refuse Big-Pharma’s drugs besides the right-of-religion. Seems like no matter what, they’ll reject your religious and medical exemption as ‘fake’ anyway. Guess your only choice at this point is to pay-off a doctor so he’ll claim you got your shots. Or at least join a Christian Science church and spruce up your religious-lie; don’t leave any record that you have any concerns with the science of it all since you have no recognized rights to think or anything in this country LOL. It’s insane that you have to lie to have any rights to refuse this aluminum, mercury, disease brew jeez —-Oh, I must be ‘Anti-Vaccine’ right? read the ingredients idiots. i’m just stating the facts. I hope there’s consequences against the judge for absolutely ignoring these people’s natural rights.

    1. Windriven says:

      Nah. What is really insane is jabbering half wits with no real appreciation of the devastation caused by some infectious diseases over the centuries, no understanding of immunology, shocking ignorance of basic science, and a sociopathic disregard for the well-being of their communities, holding forth about religious freedom and the pollution of their precious bodily fluids by the corporatists of BigPharma.

      There are two ways to gain immunity to most infectious diseases, you can be one of the lucky ones who survives the infection, scarred perhaps, or permanently diminished by damage to an organ system, or you can get a vaccination.

      You proclaim your natural rights but where is your appreciation of your concomitant natural responsibilities? Successful immunization programs depend on high rates of compliance. You strike me as precisely the type of ignorant loudmouth who flippantly eschews vaccination, then shrieks that the doctor was a quack because she couldn’t save your baby dying from pertussis.

      I’ll leave with the suggestion that you relocate to Somalia, Sudan, or Syria. No one there will hold you down and pump “disease brew” into the temple of your body.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      It is insane that you have no rights to refuse Big-Pharma’s drugs besides the right-of-religion.

      What are you talking about? The vaccine exemptions are merely to access schools. Atheist, but want your kid to break a lung through uncontrolled pertussis? Home school!

      Seems like no matter what, they’ll reject your religious and medical exemption as ‘fake’ anyway.

      I agree, it’s stupid – they should abolish the religious exemption.

      Guess your only choice at this point is to pay-off a doctor so he’ll claim you got your shots. Or at least join a Christian Science church and spruce up your religious-lie; don’t leave any record that you have any concerns with the science of it all since you have no recognized rights to think or anything in this country LOL.

      Or, y’know, home school. Because your child’s health is too important to risk vaccinating/that way your little parasite won’t infect the kid with cancer who can’t get vaccinated, sitting next to him/her on the bus.

      It’s insane that you have to lie to have any rights to refuse this aluminum, mercury, disease brew jeezSome questions – how do you avoid your kid getting aluminum in his/her body, considering its ubiquity in the soil, water and food? If you object to injecting it, how do you prevent your child from scraping their knee and getting a bolus (along with Clostridium tetani, which they presumably aren’t vaccinated against) sub-q? Does your child eat salmon?

      And how do you feel about your child catching a wild-type infection, and being exposed to several billion times the number of viral or bacterial antigens once the polio virus (or pertussis, or measles, or rubella) replicates throughout their body? Which is worse – the few dozen antigens found in the vaccine, often killed or attenuated, or the billions upon billions that your kid will have to fight off once infected?

      —-Oh, I must be ‘Anti-Vaccine’ right?

      Yes. And also arrogant and ignorant, and suffused with that special odor of insufferability that is generated when you occupy the overlapping shaded region of a Venn diagram that includes both.

      read the ingredients idiots. i’m just stating the facts.

      The facts are if polio weren’t vaccinated, we would have to bring back iron lungs, or at least some parents would get to watch their children suffocate. If measles and rubella weren’t vaccinated against, we’d get to see more spontaneous abortions and children born brain damanged and deaf. If pertussis weren’t vaccinated against, then every so often someone would get to watch their baby choke to death.

      But no, the real problem is the vaccines. Sure.

      I hope there’s consequences against the judge for absolutely ignoring these people’s natural rights.

      What you are claiming is the natural right to expose others to risks without properly understanding what they are. Read Arthur Allen’s Vaccines, or anything by Paul Offit. You somehow think you are smarter than the toxicologists, immunologists, pediatricians and epidemiologists who develop the vaccine schedule without even being aware of how omnipresent aluminum is in the soil and water – quite naturally, nothing to do with pollution even.

      Read a book.

      1. Daniel Thomas says:

        I would suggest the same to you, read! But look for researches not sponsored or biased by the same group which sponsors this site.

        1. Windriven says:

          “But look for researches not sponsored or biased by the same group which sponsors this site.”

          You are suggesting reading the pathetic ravings of superstitious half-wits rather than carefully researched, science based analysis? Why? For entertainment value? For more proof that there are a whole bunch of frighteningly stupid people walking around unsupervised?

          And what about you, Danny boy? What is your area of expertise? What brilliance do you bring to the party?

        2. Chris says:

          “not sponsored or biased by the same group which sponsors this site.”

          Can you list some of those researchers that meet with your approval?

          Plus can you tell us which group sponsors this site? Provide verifiable documentation.

          1. Windriven says:

            “Provide verifiable documentation.”

            Yeah…. not gonna happen, Chris. I don’t expect to ever hear from Danny boy again. He doesn’t strike me as having the stones to defend his ‘your momma wears army boots’ comment.

            1. Chris says:

              Yeah, it really shows their dedication to their cause, since they just like to post one rant and, just like Brave Sir Robin, they bravely run away!

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Nobody sponsors this cite, recently the ads were turned on but they are to a generic, quasi-random list of popular articles. Basically what you are saying is, “I can’t refute any of your points, and I can’t make any good points myself, so I’ll just accuse you and all contributors here of bias.” I can claim you are a shill for Joe Mercola out to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to sell more overpriced coconut oil, that doesn’t make it reality.

          Nobody sponsors this site, nobody sponsors most of the research on vaccines and autism, and nobody has found good evidence of a link between the two.

  23. brewandferment says:

    The vaccine exemptions are merely to access schools

    although it should be to access ANY human contact unless you are willing to wear obvious identification at all times so the rest of us can avoid the airspace of those who won’t vaccinate. sez me if I were empress of the world. But since I’m not we just have to bring back shaming non-vaccinators

    1. brewandferment says:

      oops really screwed that one up–first line is quoting WLU, nothing should have been bolded, and it was supposed to be under his comment. Now I will find my commenting dunce cap and sit in the corner sucking my thumb…

    2. Windriven says:

      “sez me if I were empress of the world.”

      Yes! A “DA” worn conspicuously like the “A” once worn by adulteresses (I wonder why the men didn’t have to wear A’s or tiny little pecker lapel pins or tie tacks?). The DA, of course, referring to Dumb Ass as in Mark Crislip’s absolutely priceless A Budget of Dumb Asses which I hang on the employee bulletin board every year at the beginning of flu season along with the reminder that we pay for flu shots.

      I vote for Brewandferment for empress!

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        You mean !vote. One generally doesn’t become empress through election – it’s usually inheritance or gory warfare.

        1. Windriven says:

          “gory warfare.”

          Out here on the Group W bench, we love blood and gore and veins in our teeth. Plus, I gots me some gats. All Brew has to do is get fitted for her tiara.

  24. E. Phillips says:

    Apropos Ms Check’s comment that disease is the work of the devil and the only protection is to trust in the lord:

    In 1885 the last great smallpox epidemic in North America struck the city of Montreal killing some 3000 people. In the event it acted as–if you’ll pardon the expression–an uncontrolled clinical trial: the English speaking protestants, who were mostly vaccinated, escaped unscathed, while the French speaking catholics, following the advice of their priests who warned them that god decides how and when we die and that vaccinations were the work of the devil and anyone getting one would burn in hell, were infected in droves (the 19th century death rate from smallpox was about 10%). To be fair, the anglican church had preached a similar message until about three decades earlier, when queen Victoria, the titular head of the church, announced that the royal children had all been vaccinated.

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