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From Nuremberg to California: Why Informed Consent Matters in the 21st Century

Story at-a-glance -

  • Informed consent means you have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention and the freedom to make a voluntary decision about whether or not to accept those risks without being coerced or punished for your decision
  • Informed consent applies not just to risks taken by participants in scientific experiments, but also to risks taken by patients under the care of physicians
  • Vaccination must remain a choice because it is a medical intervention performed on the body of a healthy person that carries a risk of injury or death, and this risk cannot be calculated or determined ahead of time
  • People are born with different genes and a unique microbiome. As a result, we do not all respond the same way to drugs and vaccines, and vaccine risks are therefore not being borne equally by everyone in society
  • Utilitarianism, which decrees that some people are expendable for the good of the majority, is a pseudo-ethic that must be rejected as the moral foundation of public health policy and law

By Barbara Loe Fisher

Since I was asked to make a presentation about vaccine exemptions in 1997 at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., I have publicly defended the informed consent principle, which was defined as a human right at the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg in 1947.


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