Editorial by Jenny McCarthy: MMR Doctor Exonerated—Who’s Guilty Now?
Posted Mar 01 2012 12:00am
By Jenny McCarthy
The parent autism community is buzzing with excitement over a ruling by a British judge clearing Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s colleague and co-author of all charges against him that arose from a study of the relationship between gut disease, autism, and the MMR vaccine.
Judge John Mitting’s conclusion, from an appeal by the highly respected pediatric gastroenterologist Prof. John Walker-Smith, stated:
“…both on general issues and the Lancet paper and in relation to individual children, the panel’s overall conclusion that Professor Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed…The panel’s determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it.”
Professor Walker-Smith was Andrew Wakefield’s co-author on a highly controversial study published in the medical journal The Lancet in 1998. Most of the controversy stemmed from the reporting by the co-authors that many of the parents in the study claimed that their children regressed into autism after receiving the MMR vaccine.
For parents of children with autism, this whole mess has always been a bit of a head-scratcher. The Lancet study’s conclusion that children with autism suffer from bowel disease is something any autism parent could easily confirm, and MMR, by far, has been the vaccine most commonly cited by parents as a trigger for a regression into autism. In my travels, I have heard the same story from parents about MMR leading to regression thousands of times.
In Britain, The General Medical Council is in charge of licensing and regulating doctors. Their 2010 “trial” of Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues was the longest in GMC history, lasting 217 days, and concluded by revoking the medical licenses of Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Prof Walker-Smith. At the time, Dr. Wakefield spoke of the injustice that Judge Mitting has now confirmed:
"It seemed to me that they had come to this decision a long time ago, long before the evidence was fairly heard. This is the way the system deals with dissent. You isolate, discredit and provide an example to other doctors and scientists not to get involved in this kind of thing. That is examining questions of vaccine safety."
Now what? If the foundation of the proof that the MMR does not trigger autism is crumbling, what in the world are parents supposed to believe? If Professor Walker-Smith is not guilty on all charges, will Dr. Wakefield be next? The Canary Party’s press release explains:
“While John Walker-Smith received funding to appeal the GMC decision from his insurance carrier, his co-author Andrew Wakefield did not — and was therefore unable to mount an appeal in the high court. This year, however, Dr. Wakefield, who now conducts his research in the US, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee and the British Medical Journal for falsely accusing him of ‘fraud.’ The suit is currently underway in Texas, where Wakefield now lives.”
I think I’m really happy today--it’s great to see justice finally served. At the same time, have parents been given false information? Are decisions being made by parents based on headlines that may prove inaccurate? Is it possible vaccines are in fact dangerous for our most fragile kids?
If Dr. Wakefield and Prof. Walker-Smith have been found not guilty, who are the guilty parties? Mark Blaxill, chairman of the Canary Party, offers up his thoughts:
“Though justice has finally prevailed for Prof. Walker-Smith, the damage done to him and his colleagues has been incalculable. The UK government must investigate the corruption in the GMC, which has severely damaged the reputations of good, honest doctors. Most of all, it’s outrageous that Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been vilified by government officials, vaccine manufacturers and physician organizations, and that the media has accepted these unfounded accusations uncritically.”
I don’t know the answers to all these questions. Unfortunately, the GMC’s decision to turn Dr. Wakefield and Prof. Walker-Smith’s paper into a three-ring circus has put a chill on research into all the possible environmental causes of autism. Will this finally open the floodgates?
We need answers, and we need them now. Millions of children remain at risk. For one day, at least, it feels like some justice has been served.
Jenny McCarthy’s honesty, humility and humor have enabled her to transcend the boundaries of her roles as comedian, actress, host, best-selling author and influential activist in the world of healing and preventing autism. When she first made her own experience with her son Evan’s diagnosis and subsequent recovery from autism, her unique ability to articulate the unspoken words of thousands of mothers and fathers across the world was recognized immediately, and she is now fielding hundreds of requests per week for interviews, speaking engagements, and public appearances nationwide.
A highly-regarded NY Times Best Selling author, McCarthy’s books include the bestsellers Belly Laughs, Baby Laughs, Life Laughs, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism and Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds.Healing and Preventing Autism, co-written with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, was published in April, 2009. Her latest book, LOVE, LUST, AND FAKING IT: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance hit stores in September 2010, also landing on the NY Times Bestseller List. Her next book, SINNER: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic, will be published in Fall 2012.
Perhaps it is these innate qualities that contribute to her undeniable accessibility factor, which has drawn endorsement and sponsorship deals throughout the ad community. In 2006, Jenny began working with Weight Watchers, encouraging healthy living and nutrition among moms trying to lose weight post pregnancy. Her refreshingly honest approach generated mass public appeal and a role as Weight Watcher’s national spokesperson for their 2007 ad campaign, “Be an After. Stay an After” and 2009’s “Lose For Good” campaign.
Jenny and Sarah Clifford Scheflen, a practicing speech language pathologist, created Teach2Talk ( www.teach2talk.com ), a series of 16 DVDs for children. Created using the latest research available, Teach2Talk subjects range from improving vocabulary skills to dealing with negative behaviors and temper tantrums, entertaining children while teaching them language, behavior and social skills.
Jenny launched a new line of affordable, non-toxic bedding and bedroom accessories called Too Good by Jenny, available in stores nationwide ( www.toogoodbyjenny.com )
Jenny is a board member of Generation Rescue ( www.generationrescue.com ), an international movement of scientists and physicians researching the causes and treatments for autism, ADHD, neurological disorders and chronic illness, while parent-volunteers mentor thousands of families in recovering their children.
In addition to appearing in a multitude of campaigns, including the memorable Candie’s shoes ads, Jenny has graced the covers of magazines across the world, including Rolling Stone, People, Shape and Playboy. The diversity in her resume highlights her unique combination of intelligence, sex appeal and humor.
Playing recurring guest roles on major network television shows, such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Just Shoot Me,” and “The Drew Carey Show,” Jenny continues to be a sought-after comedic actress. In December 2009, she reprised her starring role in “Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe,” a sequel to ABC Family’s wildly successful holiday movie. Jenny will once again join hosts Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest, reporting live from Times Square on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2012.”
Throughout her career, as a model, actress, author and activist, Jenny holds the unique ability to engage an audience of every age and gender. Jenny McCarthy has, in fact, become a household name, which is now, more than ever, held in the highest of regard.
Jenny McCarthy currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her son, Evan.