Following is an excerpt from a keynote presentation given by Barbara Loe Fisher at the 2014 US Health Freedom Congress in Minneapolis, Minnesota. View the video of her full 75 minute presentation here or on NVIC.org.
By Barbara Loe Fisher
Co-founder & President, National Vaccine Information Center
The public conversation about whether we should have the freedom to choose how we want to maintain our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health has become one of the most important public conversations of our time.
It is a conversation that challenges us to examine complex public policy, scientific, ethical, legal, philosophical, economic, political, and cultural issues.
This may appear to be a new conversation but it has been around for centuries.1 At the center of this new and old public conversation about health and freedom, is the topic of vaccination.2, 3
What unites those defending an open discussion about vaccination and health is a commitment to protecting bodily integrity4, 5 and defending the inalienable right to self-determination,6 which has been globally acknowledged as a human right.7, 8, 9
Whether you are a health care professional practicing complementary and alternative medicine or specializing in homeopathic, naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, or other holistic health options,10 or you are a consumer advocate working for the right to know and freedom to choose how you and your family will stay well, many of you have a deep concern about health and freedom.
Vaccination: Most Hotly Debated of All Health Freedom Issues
The most divisive and hotly debated of all health freedom issues is the question of whether individuals should be at liberty to dissent from established medical and government health policy and exercise freedom of thought, speech, and conscience when it comes to vaccination.11, 12, 13
In the health freedom movement, there are some who will defend the legal right to purchase and use nutritional supplements, drink raw milk, eat GMO-free food, remove fluoride from public water systems and mercury from dental amalgams, or choose non-medical model options for healing and staying well, but are reluctant to publicly support the legal right to make vaccine choices.
A Sacrosanct Status for Vaccination
Vaccination is a medical procedure that has been elevated to a sacrosanct status by those in control of the medical-model based health care system for the past two centuries. Vaccination is now being proclaimed as the most important scientific discovery and public health intervention in the history of medicine.14, 15, 16
Using religious symbols and crusading language, medical scientists describe vaccination as the Holy Grail.17, 18, 19, 20 Vaccines, they say, are going to eradicate all causes of sickness and death from the earth and anyone who doubts that is an ignorant fool.21, 22, 23, 24, 25
In the 1970s, pediatrician and health freedom pioneer Robert Mendelsohn, who described himself as a medical heretic, warned that medical science has become a religion and doctors have turned the act of vaccination into “the new sacrament.”26
In the 21st century, if you refuse to believe that vaccination is a moral and civic duty and dare to question vaccine safety or advocate for the legal right to decline one or more government recommended vaccines.
You are in danger of being branded an anti-science heretic, a traitor, and a threat to the public health.27, 28 You are viewed as a person of interest who deserves to be humiliated, silenced, and punished for your dissent.29, 30, 31, 32
Exercising Freedom of Thought, Speech, and Autonomy
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize,” said Voltaire,33, 34 the great 18th century writer during the Age of Enlightenment, who was imprisoned several times in the Bastille for defending freedom of thought and speech before the French Revolution.
As contentious as the public conversation about vaccination, health, and autonomy has become, we cannot be afraid to have it. There has never been a better time to challenge those ruling our health care with an iron fist. We have the power and all we need to do is exercise it.
Information Is Power
We have the tools in the 21st century to bring about a modern Age of Enlightenment35 that will liberate the people so we can take back our freedom and our health.
The electronic communications revolution has provided a global platform for us to access the Library of Medicine36 and evaluate the quality and quantity of vaccine science used to make public health policy and create vaccine laws.
The World Wide Web allows us to circumvent the paid mainstream media dominated by industry and governments and publicly communicate in detail on our computers, tablets, and smart phones exactly what happened to our health or our child’s health after vaccination.37, 38, 39, 40
We are connected with each other in a way that we have never been before and it is time to talk about vaccines and microbes and the true causes of poor health.
It is time to face the fear that we and our children will get sick and die if we don’t believe and do what those we have allowed to rule our health care system with an iron fist tell us to believe and do.
Who Will Control the Multi-Trillion Dollar US Health Care System?
What is at stake in this debate between citizens challenging the status quo and those resisting constructive change is: who will control the multi-trillion dollar US health care system?41
If people have the right to know and freedom to choose how to heal and stay healthy, a free people may think independently and choose to spend their money on something different from what they have been carefully taught to spend their money on right now.42
A free people may reject sole reliance on the expensive and, some say, ineffective pharmaceutical-based medical model that has dominated US health care for two centuries.43, 44, 45
A free people may refuse to buy and eat GMO foods.46 A free people may walk away from doctors, who threaten and punish patients for refusing to obey orders to get an annual flu shot or decline to give their children every single government recommended vaccine on schedule – no exceptions and no questions asked.47
The most rational and compelling arguments for defending health freedom, including vaccine freedom of choice, are grounded in ethics, law, science, and economics. The human right to voluntary, informed consent to vaccination is the best example of why Americans must not wait any longer to stand up and defend without compromise the inalienable right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity.
NVIC: Defending Ethical Principle of Informed Consent
I and the more than 100,000 followers and supporters48 of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center, take an informed consent position with regard to vaccination. Since our founding in 1982, we have defended the ethical principle of informed consent to vaccine risk-taking because vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury, death, and failure.49
Because informed consent to medical risk taking is the central ethical principle guiding the ethical practice of medicine.50 We support the “first do no harm” precautionary approach to public policymaking, which focuses on how much harm can be prevented from a policy or law and not how much harm is acceptable.51
NVIC Supports Your Health Choices and Vaccine Exemptions
We do not advocate for or against use of vaccines. We support your human and legal right to make informed, voluntary health care decisions for yourself and your children and choose to use every government recommended vaccine, a few vaccines or no vaccines at all.52 NVIC has worked for more than 30 years to secure vaccine safety and informed consent provisions in public health policies and laws, including flexible medical, religious, and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions.
We are doing this in an increasingly hostile environment created by an industry-government-medical trade alliance that is lobbying for laws to compel all Americans to use every government recommended without deviation from the official schedule or face a growing number of societal sanctions.53 Although historically, children have been the target for vaccine mandates, authoritarian implementation of federal vaccine policy is not just for children anymore, it is rapidly expanding to include all adults.54, 55
Californians Stood Up for Personal Belief Vaccine Exemption
In 2012, many California residents traveled to Sacramento to protest a law introduced by a pediatrician legislator to make it harder for parents to file a personal belief vaccine exemption for their children to attend school. They responded to Action Alerts we issued through the online NVIC Advocacy Portal and lined the halls of the state Capitol building, many with their children, and waited for hours and hours to testify at several public hearings.
Mother after mother and father after father, grandparents, nurses, doctors, and students of chiropractic, came to the public microphone. Some talked about how vaccine reactions left their children sick and disabled but they can’t find a doctor to write a medical exemption so their children can attend school; others talked about how their babies died after vaccination; and others simply opposed restriction of the legal right for parents to make medical decisions for their minor children.
It was a remarkable public witnessing by articulate, courageous citizens pleading with their elected representatives to do the right thing.
The right thing would have been for lawmakers to vote to leave the personal belief vaccine exemption alone so parents could continue to make vaccine decisions for their minor children without being forced to beg a hostile doctor or government official for permission to do that. That didn’t happen.56 Today, parents in California are forced to pay a pediatrician or other state-approved health worker to sign a personal belief vaccine exemption and the doctor can refuse to sign and parents are reporting many pediatricians ARE refusing to sign.
Californians Inspired Colorado Citizens to Stand Up in 2014
Yet, because in 2012 California citizens made a powerful public statement by participating in the democratic process and taking action with calls, letters, emails, and personal testimony, in 2014, Colorado citizens were inspired to do the same when the personal belief vaccine exemption was attacked in that state.
Because in 2012, enough people in California did not sit back and assume the job of defending health freedom would get done by someone else, in 2014, enough people in Colorado did not assume it would get done by someone else.57 And this time, we were able to hold the line and protect the personal belief vaccine exemption in that state from being eliminated or restricted.58
This time, there were enough lawmakers in Colorado, who listened and carefully considered the evidence.59 They did not cave in to pressure from drug industry, government, and medical trade lobbyists60, 61, 62, 63 labeling a minority of citizens as “ignorant,” “selfish,” “crazy,” and in need of having their parental and civil rights taken away for defending the human right to self determination and informed consent to vaccine risk-taking.
The Right to Make a Risk Decision Belongs to You
I do not tell anyone what risks to take and never will. The right and responsibility for making a risk decision belongs to the person taking the risk. When you become informed and think rationally about a risk you or your child will take – and then follow your conscience – you own that decision. And when you own a decision, you can defend it. And once you can defend it, you will be ready to do whatever it takes to fight for your freedom to make it, no matter who tries to prevent you from doing that.
Einstein: ‘Never do anything against conscience’
Albert Einstein, who risked arrest in Germany in the 1930s when he spoke out against censorship and persecution of minorities, said, “Never do anything against conscience even if the State demands it.”64 It takes strength to act independently. When the herd is all running toward the cliff, the one running in the opposite direction seems crazy. People who think rationally and act independently even when the majority does not, may be the only ones to survive!
Gandhi: ‘Speak Your Mind’
Gandhi was often persecuted by the ruling majority for challenging their authority and using non-violent civil disobedience to publicly dissent. He said, “Never apologize for being correct, for being ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”65 Sharing what you know to be true empowers others to make conscious choices.
Jefferson: ‘The Minority Possess Their Equal Rights’
The authors of the US Constitution made sure to include strong language securing individual liberties, including freedom of thought, speech, and conscience. They did that because many of the families immigrating to America had personally faced discrimination and persecution in other countries for holding beliefs different from the ruling majority.
In his first Presidential inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson warned: “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority posses their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”66
Getting Vaccinated Is Not a Patriotic Act
There is no liberty more fundamentally a natural, inalienable right than the freedom to think independently and follow your conscience when choosing what you will risk your life or your child’s life for. And that is why voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking is a human right.
Despite what you are being told by paid propaganda experts67, 68 spinning the conversation about vaccination and health in the media today, getting vaccinated is not a patriotic act69 and declining to use a government recommended vaccine is not a criminal act.70 It is a choice.
All Born Equal But Not the Same
Vaccination must remain a choice because, while we are all born equal, with equal rights under the law, we are not born all the same. Each one of us is born with different genes and a unique microbiome71 influenced by epigenetics72 that affects how we respond to the environments we live in. We do not all respond the same way to infectious diseases73 and we do not all respond the same way to pharmaceutical products like vaccines.74, 75, 76, 77 Public health laws that fail to respect biodiversity and force everyone to be treated the same are unethical and dangerous.
My Son’s Severe DPT Vaccine Reaction
The first time I really understood what it means to belong to a minority was after I witnessed my son, Chris, suffer a convulsion, collapse shock, and brain inflammation within hours of his fourth DPT shot when he was two and a half years old. I remember that day in 1980 when I took my exceptionally bright, healthy two and a half year old son to the pediatrician with all the trust and faith of a young first time mother.
Saying words at seven months, speaking in full sentences and identifying words by age two, my precocious, cheerful little boy had a friend, Timmy, who lived across the street and also got four DPT shots by age two. Timmy was born to a different mother and father with a different genetic, biological, and environmental history. Timmy did not have a milk allergy or a family history of autoimmunity and allergy like Chris. He had not experienced a severe local reaction after his third DPT shot like Chris had and, unlike Chris, Timmy had not just finished a course of antibiotics before he was vaccinated a fourth time.
Timmy did not have a reaction to his booster DPT shot. Chris did. Within hours of vaccination, I watched my son’s eyes roll back in his head and his head fall to his shoulder as if he had fallen asleep sitting up. It was a classic post-DPT vaccine convulsion and collapse shock reaction78 and I didn’t know. Then, when he slept for hours without moving and I thought he was just taking a really long nap, I didn’t understand that he was unconscious79 and could have died in his bed and I would never have known why because my pediatrician did not tell me about DPT vaccine risks or how to identify vaccine reaction symptoms.80, 81, 82, 83
Vaccine Induced Brain Inflammation and Regression
The immune mediated brain inflammation, also known as encephalopathy,84, 85, 86 that Chris experienced after DPT vaccination was followed by progressive deterioration in physical, mental, and emotional health, including chronic infections, constant diarrhea, new allergies, failure to thrive, loss of previous cognitive skills, inability to concentrate, and personality and behavior changes.
Chris could no longer do what he could do before his fourth DPT shot. He became a totally different child.
After repeated testing, he was diagnosed with minimal brain damage, including multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder and placed in a special education classroom for the learning disabled where he stayed through his public education until the end of high school. Chris and I know how very fortunate he was that the severe vaccine reaction he experienced did not take his life or leave him with far more serious brain and immune dysfunction like so many of the children we have both come to know since then.
Today, Chris is a videographer and competitive power lifter. He has worked hard to compensate for the learning disabilities that made his childhood a frustrating, unhappy, and sometimes dangerous time in his life. Recent testing has revealed that Chris has an exceptional ability to engage in abstract thinking and that, when his learning disabilities are discounted, he has a high IQ, which is one reason why he was so frustrated and lost in a special education system that does not have a place for children like him.
Vaccine Reaction Survivors: The Walking Wounded
Chris is a vaccine reaction survivor. He is among the walking wounded, who are not left with severe vaccine injuries, but whose futures are compromised in childhood when the risks of vaccination turn out to be 100 percent. How many mothers do not witness a child’s vaccine reaction and never understand why their children’s physical, mental, and emotional health suddenly regressed after vaccination? How many of those children are filling the special education classrooms, doctor’s offices, mental health facilities, and prisons in America?
The Risks of Trusting Without Verifying
What happened to my healthy son after vaccination in 1980 sent me on a journey to learn more and find out why doctors are not talking about vaccine risks and why a commercial product that can brain damage and kill people is being mandated. In part, I was driven by disappointment in myself as a college educated woman, who had come from a family of doctors and nurses and had worked as a writer at a teaching hospital before I became a Mom.
Why did I irrationally assume that vaccines were 100 percent safe and effective? Why had I blindly trusted a doctor instead of examining vaccination with the same due diligence that I had researched nutrition and toxic exposures during pregnancy and had taken prepared childbirth classes to weigh the merits of an epidural versus natural childbirth and breast feeding versus bottle feeding?
A Journey to Find Out Why
Some of my questions were answered during the two years of research that medical historian Harris Coulter and I conducted, when I learned that pertussis vaccine contains lethal pertussis toxin87, 88, 89 and endotoxin,90, 91 as well as aluminum and mercury,92, 93 which can make the blood brain more permeable.94, 95, 96
That research culminated in the publishing of our 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark.97 Harris and I were the first to report an association between vaccine induced brain inflammation and a spectrum of brain dysfunction that doctors give labels like seizures, learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism. But it would take another 25 years of research and interfacing with politicians and serving on committees with doctors in industry, government, and medical trade to answer the rest of my questions.98
Everybody Knows Somebody
In 1982, when I joined with parents of DPT vaccine injured children and co-founded the non-profit charity that is known today as the National Vaccine Information Center, the number of Americans questioning the safety of vaccines was so tiny, it could not even by measured in public opinion polls.
Three decades later, national polls reveal that the majority of parents in America say the Number One child health concern they have is about the safety of vaccines.99 That is because in the 21st century, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated, and was never healthy again.
Militarization of Vaccine Policy: Fear Replacing Trust
And people are talking about it, especially mothers taking their children to pediatricians because we are the ones who carry our babies inside us for nine months and give birth and feed and nurture them through infancy and are responsible for their health and we are the ones who usually quit work and stay home and care for them when they are never well anymore.
Mothers are asking their doctors logical questions about vaccination and when their doctors react to those questions with irrational rage or cold refusal to provide medical care if one or more vaccines are declined, it becomes obvious that there is something very wrong with doctors using threats to push and enforce use of a pharmaceutical product.100, 101, 102, 103 The militarization of vaccine policy in the United States is eroding the trust that used to exist between the people and their doctors and that broken trust is being replaced by fear.104, 105
From 23 Doses of 7 Vaccines to 69 Doses of 16 Vaccines
One of the reasons parents are asking more questions about vaccination is that there have been big changes in US vaccine policy and law since 1982. In 1982, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told pediatricians to give children 23 doses of seven vaccines before age six, with the first vaccinations starting at two months old.106 Today, the CDC has upped that number to 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18, with 49 doses of 14 vaccines given between the day of birth and age six.107
That is twice the number of vaccines children in the 1980s got by age six and three times as many vaccinations as Americans used to get during their whole life! But these new vaccines are not for diseases like smallpox and polio. They are for infant diarrhea and chickenpox, which are rarely fatal in this country, and hepatitis B, which requires direct exposure to infected blood and cannot be easily transmitted in public.108
Jacobsen v. Massachusetts: State Police Powers Affirmed
These are not the kind of infectious diseases the justices of the 1905 US Supreme Court probably had in mind when they issued their ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts.109 In that precedent setting split decision, the high court majority ruled that state legislatures could use police powers to force a minority of dissenting citizens to use smallpox vaccine for what medical doctors and government officials judge to be the greater good of the majority. Those early 20th century justices based their decision in part on a false premise argued by lawyers representing public health officials, who argued that medical doctors could predict ahead of time who will be injured or die from smallpox vaccination.
Doctors have never been able to predict with any certainty who will be injured and die from vaccination. In affirming the constitutional right of states to use police powers to enact public health laws, the Supreme Court was also reaffirming the roles of state government versus the federal government in public health law. Anything not defined in the US Constitution as a federal responsibility has traditionally defaulted to the states. Public health was not defined in the Constitution as a federal responsibility so public health laws have always been state laws and this is why vaccination laws vary from state to state.110, 111
A Utilitarian Rationale Turned Into Law
It is important to note that the Supreme Court ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century was clearly based on a utilitarian rationale that a minority of citizens opposing vaccination should be forced to get vaccinated in service to the majority. Utilitarianism was a popular ethical theory in the late 19th and early 20th century in Britain and the US and was used by government officials as a mathematical guide to making public policy that ensured “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.”112, 113 Today, utilitarianism has a much more benign and lofty name attached to it: “the greater good.”
Minorities at Risk When State Employs Militant Utilitarianism
Perhaps that is because utilitarianism went out of fashion in the mid-20th century after, beginning in 1933, the Third Reich employed the utilitarian rationale as an excuse to demonize minorities judged to be a threat to the health and well being of the State.114 Enlisting the assistance of government health officials,115, 116, 117, 118 the first minority to be considered expendable for the good of the State were severely handicapped children, the chronically sick and mentally ill, the “useless eaters” they were called.119, 120
And when the reasons for why a person was identified as a threat to the health, economic stability, or security of the State grew longer to include minorities who were too old or too Jewish or too Catholic or too opinionated or simply unwilling to believe what those in control of the State said was true… as the list of those the State branded as persons of interest to be demonized, feared, tracked, isolated, and eliminated grew, so did the collective denial of those who had yet to be put on that list.121, 122
Jacobsen v Massachusetts Used to Embrace Eugenics in US
Prophetically, in 1927, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes invoked the Jacobsen v. Massachusetts “greater good” utilitarian decision to justify using the heel of the boot of the State to force the sterilization of a young Virginia woman, Carrie Buck, who doctors and social workers incorrectly judged to be mentally retarded like they said her mother was.123 In a chilling statement endorsing eugenics,124 Holmes revealed the morally corrupt core of utilitarianism that still props up mandatory vaccination laws in the US.
Pointing to the Jacobsen vs. Massachusetts decision, Holmes declared that the state of Virginia could force Carrie Buck to be sterilized to protect society from mentally retarded people. Coldly, Holmes proclaimed, “three generations of imbeciles are enough” and “The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.”125 The 1905 US Supreme Court majority made fundamental scientific and ethical errors in their ruling in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts. It is clear that medical doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be injured or die from vaccination and that is a scientific fact.126, 127
Utilitarianism Is a Discredited Pseudo-Ethic
Utilitarianism is a discredited pseudo-ethic that has been used to justify horrific human rights abuses not only in the Third Reich128, 129 but in human scientific experimentation130 and the inhumane treatment of prisoners and political dissidents here and in many countries,131, 132, 133, 134 which is why it should never be used as a guide to public policy and law by any government.
Although we may disagree about the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence used by doctors and governments to declare vaccines are safe at the population level, at our peril do we fail to agree that, while the State may have the power, it does not have the moral authority to dictate that a minority of individuals born with certain genes and biological susceptibilities give up their lives without their consent for what the ruling majority has judged to be the greater good.
Our Lives Are Defined by the Choices We Make
The journey we take in this life is defined by the choices we make. And if we are not free to make those choices, the journey is not our own. And the choices we make that involve risk of harm to our physical body, which houses our mind and spirit, those choices are among the most profound choices we make in this life, which is why we must be free to make them.