Saying that the US’s pre-1960s immigration policies (such as the Asian Exclusion Act) worked “very, very well” wasn’t the only “noteworthy” thing Michele Bachmann said at Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential candidates’ debate. In criticizing Texas Gov. Rick Perry over his executive order that would have mandated vaccination for state schoolgirls against human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer, Bachmann voiced fears about giving children vaccines that sounded mighty familiar to parents of autistic children and others who’ve been saying till we’re beyond blue in the face for the past several years, no, vaccines or something in vaccines do not cause autism.
I’m a mom. And I’m a mom of three children. And to have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. It’s a violation of a liberty interest.
Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan. They don’t get a do-over. The parents don’t get a do-over. …
I’m offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn’t have a choice. That’s what I’m offended for.
While noting her use of “slight creepy imagery of a rapist state government,” the Atlantic Wire commented that she was “still on safe territory” as Gardasil, the vaccine under scrutiny, has been ”linked to blood clots and the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome.” Vaccines have side effects but these do not include autism — as many, including celebrity Jenny McCarthy have claimed while citing conspiracy theories about “Big Pharma” and the CDC — and they do not include mental retardation, contrary to what Bachmann said in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today show Tuesday morning. Said Bachmann:
I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects.
Reading this was simply déjà vu all over to me. Bachmann’s account of what the Tampa mother said closely parallels the narratives of parents who claim that a vaccine or something in a vaccine caused their child to become autistic (here is an example). Her comment was yet more scaremongering about vaccines that, as Dr. Paul Offit described in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search For a Cure, has been going on since there’s been public health campaigns to vaccinate people. Bachmann’s claims not only echo those of parents of autistic children like the Rev. Lisa Sykes, but of anti-vaccine crusaders whose underlying concern was to make sure the government did not infringe on people’s personal rights.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
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