Fun with anti-vaccine petitions: The Chicago Principles on Vaccination Choice

I love it when cranks write petitions.

They’re hilarious. Usually, they’re oh-so-serious and ominous, sprinkled with unintentionally, un-self-aware bits of pure comic gold. For example, check out this “petition” being circulated by the anti-vaccine activists, called The Chicago Principles on Vaccination Choice:

We, the people who affirm our belief in personal rights, in order to promote the general health and welfare for ourselves and our children and to establish justice, advocate the following principles:

1. Vaccination choice based on complete and accurate information is a fundamental human right.

Yes and no. The problem is that what these loons propose is anything but “complete and accurate” information. The “information” they promote grossly exaggerates the risks of vaccination, attributes complications due to vaccination that science doesn’t support, and claims that vaccines aren’t effective. “Informed” consent is not “informed” if the information given is a pack of cherry picked studies, misinformation, pseudoscience, and even sometimes outright lies.

2. The right to conscientious objection from vaccination mandates, namely the right to a philosophical exemption, is a fundamental human right.

“The right”…is “a fundamental human right”? Who writes this stuff?

I could counter with the argument that the “right” to be as free from vaccine-preventable diseases as reasonably possible in public accommodations like public schools is a fundamental human right. More importantly, I’d tend to agree with this assertion by the anti-vaccine libertarian set if–and this is a huge if–in return for unfettering that “fundamental right” these anti-vaccine loons agreed that it is also their responsibility if someone else’s child suffers from the measles or other vaccine-preventable diseases because of their failure to vaccinate their children and if they supported a law that allowed the parents of such a child to sue the parents of the unvaccinated child who transmitted a vaccine-preventable disease. These guys always talk real loud and real bold about “rights,” but they seem loathe to acknowledge any of the responsibilities that go along with rights. I always thought that libertarianism basically postulates that We The People should be largely left alone as much as possible and should take responsibility for our actions rather than letting the government do it. Unfortunately, libertarianism is nothing but entitlement without consequences, if, in return for all these rights, the libertarian doesn’t accept the responsibility for his or her actions that goes along with these rights. The libertarian variety of anti-vaccine zealot never does.

3. Laws that make education, employment, daycare and public benefits contingent on vaccination status, except in the most extreme of public health emergencies, violate the fundamental human right to vaccination choice.

See #2. If the repeal of these laws also made the parents of unvaccinated children legally liable for any illnesses their children passed on because they weren’t vaccinated, with provisions for hefty civil penalties and, in extreme cases, even criminal penalties, then I might be able to go along with this.

4. When vaccination is used as a preventive medical intervention for healthy individuals, the precautionary principle must apply. If there is no public consensus about the need for or safety of certain vaccines, they should neither be recommended nor mandated for universal use.

I wonder if these people agree that the precautionary principle must apply in the case of secondhand smoke or BPA? In any case, note how the petition says public, not scientific. There is no valid science behind their case, particularly given that Andrew Wakefield seems to be the best “science” they can come up with.

5. Individuals who are in a position to evaluate, recommend and mandate vaccines must be free of all actual and perceived conflicts of interest.

You mean like Andrew Wakefield, who was in the pockets of trial lawyers when he did his “research” and now stands to make his entire income from his anti-vaccine activities?

Deconstruction of each of the “Calls for Immediate Action in the United States” that make up the rest of the petition is left for an exercise for the interested reader. And they wonder why scientists don’t take their arguments seriously. I also can’t help but wonder if Ginger Taylor wrote this petition. After all, she’s on the committee that organized the anti-vaccine American Rally for Personal Rights, and she’s the first signatory. It sure looks like her work: Self righteous, full of misinformation, and unintentionally hilarious.

Don’t forget: If you live in the Chicago area and get a chance, head on down to Grant Park this afternoon to bring a bit of science to this nonsense.