CBS4 reported last night on a story that troubles us today for a few different reasons:
[Rep. Kyle Mullica] introduced a bill requiring parents who want to opt their kids out of vaccines to get a standardized form from the health department first. He says he knew it would be controversial…But he never dreamed it would result in a death threat. Mullica is an emergency room nurse and father of three. He carried the bill he says to protect kids.
“I care for children that come into the ER and that have preventable diseases. I’m terrified that we’re going to see an outbreak here in Colorado and that we’re going to see children hurt,” he said.
But after the bill passed the house Saturday, Mullica received an email saying, “You deserve death… The world would be better if your home burned down with you and your family in it.”
Shaun Boyd reports that the Colorado State Patrol is investigating and has provided security to Rep. Kyle Mullica and his family. But this threat against the safety of Rep. Mullica for a bill that does not remove the state’s controversially permissive “personal belief exemption” from the requirement to vaccinate school-age kids who attend public school, highlights the irrational nature of the opposition to one of the most basic and important public health advances of modern history. With the largest outbreak of measles in the United States underway since the disease was declared eradicated almost 20 years ago, this willful ignorance resulting in a threat to public health has consequences–and as long as these irrational people are coddled by society it’s only going to get worse.
For Rep. Mullica, a freshman representative whose primary employment is emergency room nurse, the backlash he’s facing over trying to solve one of Colorado’s most embarrassing public health conundrums–our state’s last-in-the-nation ranking for kindergarten immunizations–is a gut-wrenching way to kick off one’s career in politics. Nobody deserves the hours of time stuck in a room with unreasonable people repeating thoroughly discredited fringe talking points, let alone death threats. When you combine that experience with the surprising pushback he received from his own party’s leadership, all in pursuit of what the overwhelming consensus agrees is the right thing to do…
Suffice to say our heart goes out to Rep. Mullica. He doesn’t deserve any of this. And it sucks.
What we can say is that Rep. Mullica is both right and on the right side of history. It’s to his profound credit he after the first version of his bill was shot down he kept trying–and if he isn’t successful this year, we fully expect Rep. Mullica to be back again. At some point, after going through more toil and trouble than he ever deserved, Rep. Mullica and the overwhelming consensus of public health experts will prevail.
Until that day, he can rest easy knowing that (almost) all of the good people of Colorado have his back.