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Irresponsible citizenship and parenting

I’ve told the story many times about my grandmother not having a mastectomy because rumors floating around the rural South claimed cancer surgery would only cause it to spread throughout the body. While her decision caused her death, it didn’t lead to the death of others.

Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire, can lead to people being trampled to death. It’s totally irresponsible and, as the courts have ruled, it is speech that is not protected by the First Amendment. Inciting to riot is also forbidden. Freedom of speech only goes so far.

British doctor Andrew Wakefield has been charged with “unethical behavior” for participating in dishonesty and misleading conduct during his 1998 study suggesting a link between vaccines and autism. He may lose his license.

On Rachel Maddow’s show Feb.13, Dr. Anthony Fauci, our nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said the British study has been completely discredited. He also said you are more likely to hemorrhage to death from taking one aspirin than to have serious complications from the measles vaccine.

Measles is a very serious disease posing a far greater threat than any possible vaccine complication. Not vaccinating your child could not only result in your child’s death, but the death of others who are too young or can’t be vaccinated for legitimate health reasons. People will die, because some parents, relying on Dr. Wakefield’s study are not having their children vaccinated. They are playing Russian roulette with their children’s lives out of unwarranted fear. It’s a prime example of irresponsible citizenship and parenting.

In 1920 there were 470,000 cases of measles causing 7,575 deaths in the U.S. By 2004, the vaccine reduced the number to only 37 cases in this country. By 2014 that number had increased to 644.

Free speech is a Constitutional right. Parental rights are not delineated in the Constitution. Parents have no right to harm their children. If they do, their children can legally be taken from them. Obviously, it causes a child great harm if they die from measles because their foolish parents refused to have them vaccinated.

Undoubtedly the rise in autism cases is contributing to parents’ fears. In the 1970-80s one out of every 2,000 children had autism. Today the Centers for Disease Control estimates one in 150 8-year-olds has an autism spectrum disorder or ASD.

Most children have been vaccinated for measles, and therefore it’s logical that most autistic children have been vaccinated. A reasonable person would not view that circumstance to conclude that the measles vaccine causes autism. Likewise, most children with autism have eaten ice cream. Does that mean ice cream causes autism? People with AIDS probably were immunized with the measles vaccine. Are vaccinations the cause of AIDS? Surely you can see the folly in this reasoning.

States require vaccinations for enrollment in public schools. Some states allow so many exemptions as to make the requirement meaningless. You will find people of all political and religious persuasions among parents citing religious or personal beliefs to circumvent school enrollment requirements to vaccinate their children. States like California are considering removing all exemptions except for health reasons, as has Mississippi.

I remember when fluoridating our water was deemed a communist plot by the paranoid far right. Some will try to politicize this non-partisan issue. Political hack Glen Beck is irresponsibly by encouraging parents not to have their children vaccinated. He goes so far as accusing parents who have their children vaccinated of not doing their “homework.” Foolishly, Beck alleges, it is a violation of his contrived notion of parental rights to require parents to have their child vaccinated. Beck cavalierly dismisses the far greater threat to the lives of others, maintaining parental rights, which can’t be found in the Constitution, outweighs other peoples’ Constitutional right to life? He’s dangerous

Members of Congress, from both sides of the isle, have spoken in favor of universal vaccinations. Although recently back-tracking, Gov. Chris Christie, R-New Jersey, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a Libertarian, have made statements alleging parents have a right to refuse to vaccinate their children. Inexplicable, they not only ignored the right of those children to be protected but also the right of the rest of us to be protected from those not vaccinated. They still haven’t explained just where in the Constitution you’ll find parents have the right to intentionally endanger the life of their child or the rest of us.

Hillary Clinton summed it up nicely. “The science is clear,” tweeted Clinton, “The earth is round, the sky is blue, and vaccines work. Let’s protect all our kids.”

Glen McAdoo, a Fallon resident, can be contacted at glynn@phonewave.net.