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United States politicians on the campaign trail take up vaccine injury…again

Posted Sep 15 2011 2:00am

In the last US presidential campaign, prominent candidates made statements about vaccine injury. Specifically autism.

Senator McCain made comments about autism and mercury:

“At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that “there’s strong evidence” that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S.—a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment.”

Barak Obama made a comment which, without the video to put it in context, seemed to lend support:

“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”—Barack Obama, Pennsylvania Rally, April 21, 2008.

(“this person” was a person in the audience)

This time it is Michele Bachman. She has made the claim that gardasil (the vaccine against HPV, given to teenage and older women), resulted in “mental retardation”.

Candidate Rick Perry responded to the baseless accusation by Ms. Bachman:

You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases, and they were, autism was part of that. Now we’ve subsequently found out that was generated and not true.”

As a side note: the Pharyngula blog is reporting that Prof. Steven Miles has put up a $1,000 challenge for proof of Ms. Bachman’s statement.

I am offering $1000 for the name and medical records release of the person who Michele Bachmann says became mentally retarded as a consequence of the HPV. Please share this message.

Ms. Bachman’s comments were just plain wrong. She’d do well to apologize and move on. My own biased suggestion would be for her to move on into discussing some subjects involving the betterment of life for the disabled. This isn’t exactly a big plank in the republican platform but, hey, isn’t this about showing leadership?

  1. Harold L Doherty:
    Funny thing about democracies. It is hard to suppress free discussion of issues that are important to people.
  2. Sullivan:
    Funny thing about democracies with freedom of speech, people can make irresponsible statements. And that's a good thing. It is also the responsibility of the rest of us to counter the irresponsible misinformation. Ms. Bachman should either provide her evidence--real evidence--or apologize. That's what she should do. She is, of course, welcome to refuse to admit her mistake and let the public decide what to do with such a candidate.
  3. Sullivan:
    Apparently Ms. Bachmann doesn't seem to think that her claim of mental retardation post HPV vaccine should be on her website Of course, not every detail makes it. But this is a pretty bold claim. Perhaps some clarification is warranted.
  4. Dedj:
    "Funny thing about democracies. It is hard to suppress free discussion of issues that are important to people." Yet, by sarcastically chiding people and implying that free discussion which just happens to be negative is equivilant to suppression of free discussion, you are effecting an informal negative sanction and - therefore - attempting to suppress free discussion. Of course, I have no doubt that an honest and upstanding person like yourself will be horrified that your lack of clarity and content resulted in this situation, and I'm in no doubt that you will wish to re-make your opening statement in a totally clear and transparent way so that there is no doubt whatsoever as to whatever it is you are trying to say about the article. Over to you, Harold.
  5. Dedj:
    I meant "therefore under the values you appear to be applying to the article".

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