“Parent’s Bill of Rights” Descends Into Anti-Vaccine Madness

Measles.

Measles.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on the debate yesterday over Senate Bill 15-077, the so-called "Parent's Bill of Rights" legislation that would, among other provisions, reaffirm existing parental rights in Colorado to not vaccinate one's children. As we discussed early this week, Colorado's existing law on this subject is already controverisally lax, allowing parents to opt out of vaccinations with no real justification. With outbreaks of diseases like measles and whooping cough being widely publicized, Colorado's 82% childhood vaccination rate, the lowest in the nation, arguably makes this a more urgent question in our state than elsewhere.

For the most part, GOP proponents of this legislation have not led with defending the freedom to not vaccinate children, though prime sponsor Sen. Tim Neville readily admits that is one goal of the bill. Possible 2016 Republican presidential contenders Chris Christie and Rand Paul were both heavily criticized in the aftermath of present measles outbreak in California for making statements that appeared to support "anti-vaxxers"–and in Paul's case, repeating a myth about a connection between vaccines and "mental disorders" that has been thoroughly debunked. Even in Colorado with our somewhat lower rate of vaccinated children, the percentage remains high enough that planting one's flag with the "anti-vaxxers" seems like a grave political risk.

But that appears to be exactly what Colorado Republicans did yesterday.

Propelled by emotional testimony from a group of parents who oppose vaccines as well as some school-based testing and non-academic surveys, legislation seeking to establish a ‘Parent’s Bill of Rights’ passed its first test at the Capitol Thursday…

Colorado progressives, focusing on the hot-button issue of vaccinations, panned the vote.

“News reports this week show that Colorado has the lowest rate of childhood vaccinations in America,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. “Right-wing politicians like Rand Paul have come under fire for suggesting that vaccines might be responsible for mental health problems in children, even though that theory has been totally discredited by scientific research.”

“Right on cue, extreme conservatives in the Colorado Senate have introduced a bill reaffirming the ‘right’ of parents to not have their children vaccinated. With outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough making nationwide headlines, is there a worse message we could send to Colorado parents?”

The Denver Post's Electra Draper:

Several parents spoke in opposition to school vaccination requirements and programs.

"Parents do not realize how powerless they are," said Debbie Carroll of Littleton…

7NEWS:

The measure…[underscores] current Colorado law that allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids for medical, religious or personal beliefs by signing a waiver. 7NEWS asked if the bill would get rid of the waiver process.

"Yes, I mean, I would assume so," Neville said. [Pols emphasis]

Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Sources at the hearing tell us that, after a measured start that included a great deal of testimony from Colorado PTA and the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Interfaith Alliance in opposition to the bill, a long string of witnesses focused almost exclusively on the vaccine issue turned the hearing into a veritable circus of unrefuted, largely discredited pseudoscience. Although a popular speculative subject for lay public "researchers," some of whom showed up to testify yesterday, numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown no link between autism and vaccinations.

There is a percentage of Americans, of course, who place no higher value on peer-reviewed scientific research than anything else they read. With an issue like vaccinations, as opposed to, say, climate change, the consequences of the ignorance/paranoia/whatever motivating a relatively small number of people to avoid vaccinations for their children may not take generations to appear. Perhaps it will be your next trip to Disneyland. Or when a kid on your block comes down with whooping cough.

When that happens, as AP's Nicholas Riccardi reports, voters will know who to blame:

As vaccine skeptics fight laws that would force more parents to inoculate their kids, they are finding unexpected allies in conservative Republicans…

"This boils down to, does the government force everyone to conform or do we empower everyone to make decisions on their own?" said Colorado state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican who did not fully vaccinate his children and led the fight against last year's bill. [Pols emphasis]

During yesterday's hearing, Senate Education Committee chair Sen. Owen Hill reportedly admitted that all of his children have "different levels of vaccine" because of his family's uncertainty over vaccination safety. Such highly questionable personal decisionmaking puts these lawmakers on the opposite side of the overwhelming majority of Colorado parents who have opted to vaccinate their kids. And public health experts across America. And the peer-reviewed science. At the same moment this issue is making national headlines.

If there's a scenario in which this does not end in political disaster, we'd like to hear it. Because we foresee some very potent ads being made against this legislation, and everyone who supports it.

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19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. The realistThe realist says:

    I have virtuallly no tolerance left for ignorance – and none for willful ignorance.

  2. SocialisticatProgressicat says:

    Owen Hill, Vicki Marble, Chris Holbert, Tim Neville, Laura Waters Woods.

    Today you voted to kill children and the infirm.  Congrats.  Every death from a preventible disease in this state or carried by someone from this state from now on is on your heads.

  3. FrankUnderwood says:

    Educated and responsible parents should isolate their children from the spawn of morons. Maybe the anti-vaccine folk will all resort to home schooling and keep their offspring away from healthy children.

    Did Michelle Bachman testify about how the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation? She's something of an expert since she heard some woman mention it at a campaign event in '12.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Public Schools are to provide the opportunity for education to all.  Those who object to vaccination  requirements or non-bible based teaching are free to educate their children at home or in private schools that meet their requirements at their own expense.  I believe all those who wish to take advantage of public school education should have to have their children vaccinated for the safety of the whole student body, staff and their families. The only opting out, whether it's opting out of science based subject matter or out of vaccination requirements, without a documented medical reason such as a specific medical conditio, should be in order to opt in to home or private schooling.  This is what Catholic families who want a Catholic based education for their children have always done.  If personal or religious objections preclude you from a public school education then you need to find your own alternative and pay for it yourself or via scholarships which could be offered by the like-minded and affluent.

  4. Republican 36 says:

    It is unbelievable that the proponents of this bill, including the Republican sponsor and Republican state senators who support it, could associate themselves with the notion that people have the right to infect other people, especially children, with infectious diseases that are preventable through vaccinations. 

    It is preposterous to assert that schools should not have the right to insist and require children to be vaccinated. What right do these people have to infect me or members of my family with diseases? Their position is nonsensical.

    Requiring vaccinations is not an infringement on freedom. If we project the proponents logic to its inevitable conclusion, freedom to them means any citizen can do anything, including walking down the 16th Street Mall or inside Park Meadows Mall randomly firing a weapon in any direction. After all, the laws against homicide certainly violate our absolute freedom.

    Laws are rules of society enacted, in part, because we have obligations to each other. I suppose that in some sense such laws violate our absolute freedom but when people form a society they no longer live in a vaccuum. The relationships in a society require all of us to agree to certain rules that govern our behavior and our expectaitons. Today's Republican philosophy based on an almost absolute opposition to the existence of government which, in turn, allows and sanctions dangerous conditions like fatal diseases to exist in our country is not a symbol of freedom. Its insanity.

  5. ModeratusModeratus says:

    The bill doesn't change existing law regarding vaccinations at all. Liberals are focusing on vaccines as a scare tactic. This bill is about parents being able to have a say in their child's education, and to be free ot unwarranted intrusion into their authority as parents.

    Typical disgraceful diversion from Colorado Pols.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Such an idiotic thing to say….but that is all I expect from you. Then there are things I don't expect from you…like a straight answer to an honest question. Like the one from the other day…

      Why should oil and gas companies be exempt from local zoning regulations?

      or this one…were you vaccinated by your parents? If not…are you prepared to deal with a case of the measles…?

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Well, what do you know? I went back to the thread where I originally asked you the O&G question and you did give me an answer, Tue February 3, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        Because zoning cannot be used to steal property.

      Maybe on the other thread you can tell me what the hell that means…

      and on this one answer my other questions….were you vaccinated by your parents?

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      First, many liberals are the among the ones objecting. As usual you have no idea WTF you're talking about. Parents already have a say in their childrens' education. They are free to bypass public schools if they don't feel those schools meet their needs via home or private schooling. The difference is, society as a whole pays for public school via taxes. If you don't wish to take advantage you must fund your own alternative.  Requiring vaccination for public school doesn't violate  anyone's freedom. 

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Gosh ole one and done with an anti-liberal screed.  Who saw that one coming? The orginality of such a statement is simply not breathtaking or original.  Why good posters do you take the bait and reply to this literary wimp when he has no intention of actually engaging in a discussion of the issue or of his pathetic red faced insults?

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Modster, do you know what diversion means? Please explain what you mean by diversion here.  

  6. Gilpin Guy says:

    This is really just another attack on the credibility of science.  It science says that vaccinations works than the anti-science faction goes to work to undermine the science by focusing on an ancillary issue and then pulling out of their ass the tired and tripe "FREEDOM" argument.  They don't have to believe the science because "FREEDOM".  That's all they've got and this piece of shit legislation isn't going to get Hickenloopers signature but shows once again that the anti-science crowd will do anything to undermine the reality of reality.
     

    • Republican 36 says:

      I agee with you GG. You're right on point and it was reflected in Sen. Marble's comments on the floor last week when she said the government made a "moral" decision that wind generated electricity creates less pollutants than coal fired generators. If one can categorize pollutants as a moral decision rather than a scientific one, then one can take the converse position that coal is cleaner than wind generated energy because, as in Sen. Marble's case, science has been elimintaed from the equation. Its silly, but its another way the Republicans attempt to undermine the truth.

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