The annals of “I’m not anti-vaccine,” part 11: Vaccination portrayed as rape

One of the things you can say to someone who is antivaccine that will really tick them off is to “call it like you see it” and call them antivaccine. Sure, there are a few antivaccine activists who are unashamed of being antivaccine, but most antivaccinationists, sensing that society in general quite correctly takes a dim view of people who threaten to allow the return of dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases. Indeed, as I’ve pointed out many times before, that’s why antivaccine activists try to hide behind claims that they are “vaccine safety advocates,” often signified by saying, “I’m not ‘antivaccine’; I’m pro-safe vaccine.” Sometimes, these attempts to deny being antivaccine take ridiculous extremes, such as this post by Julie Obradovic on the horribly misnamed Thinking Moms’ Revolution entitled Exactly Who Is “Anti-Vaccine”?, where she writes things like:

If you want safe, non-neurotoxic vaccines for everyone, given in an independently tested and verified schedule and combination, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you want transparency, accountability, and ethical science when it comes to vaccines, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe those who profit from vaccines should not be in charge of vaccine policy or research, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe you should have the right to informed consent, and that not all vaccines are created or needed equally, you are “anti-vaccine.”

You get the idea. Antivaccine activists like Obradovic love to wrap their pseudoscience in lofty sounding beliefs about “accountability,” “ethical science,” and “informed consent.” Of course, the antivaccine version of “informed consent” is in reality “misinformed consent,” and the sorts of science antivaccinationists want is profoundly unethical, but antivaccinationists see themselves as warriors for good fighting the evil forces of big pharma, the government, and defenders of science like Paul Offit and, yes, yours truly, among others. They compare vaccines to the Holocaust, the Oklahoma City Bombing, and the Titanic.

They also compare vaccination to rape. I’m not kidding. Don’t believe me? Check out this incredible piece by someone named Marcella Piper-Terry (Facebook page here) on an antivaccine blog known as VaxTruth entitled Coerced Vaccination and the Medical Rapist:

I have been thinking this morning about the parallels between vaccine-injury and sexual assault. I happened to hear a news story today about the incidence of rape on college campuses, and as I was listening, I could envision several commonalities.

In the story, a young woman was interviewed about her experience. She described a situation in which she had accompanied a young man to his dorm room and they had engaged in sex – both agreed and it was an interaction to which both gave informed consent. They both knew they were going to have sex before entering the dorm room and there was no force or coercion involved. There was an element of trust and equality in the decision-making process.

She said that afterward, she was ready to leave and when she got up to get dressed, the young man pushed her down onto the bed, and held her down while he turned up the stereo so her cries for help could not be overheard by neighboring students.

After the assault, the young woman reported the rape to campus police. The investigation was dropped and the rapist was not prosecuted. She sees him on campus and has classes with him, which she reported is extremely difficult and re-traumatizing for her.

Vaccination of our children is in many ways similar to medical rape.

This analogy doesn’t even make any sense. I think I see where Piper-Terry is going with this in that she’s likening the pediatrician to a rapist who was initially trusted and to whom consent might even have been given who then goes one further and violates the woman. She then mixes her metaphors a bit and seems to move on to what sounds more like an analogy to an abusive relationship in which the battered woman keeps returning to her batterer:

Afterward, the perpetrators, pat us on the thigh or shoulder while looking us straight in the eyes and saying, “There now. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” They straighten their white coats, instruct us to get our things together, as they turn their backs and stride out of the room in search of their next victim. We may be left feeling afraid, and numb, not knowing how that happened and praying that it’s over. Praying they won’t come back and do it again, and praying there won’t be any lasting harm from what just happened.

In many cases, as we leave those rooms, feeling sick to our stomachs… dirty… with lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes, we force ourselves to take deep breaths and resolve to be stronger next time; more prepared to say NO and mean it.

For many of us, we ARE more prepared and we ARE able to say NO the next time. Others of us are not so strong.

Some of us resolve to change our lives and we seek new relationships, which are good for us and in which our decisions and our choices – our right to say NO is respected.

And at least one of Piper-Terry’s supporters is totally down with this analogy:

And elsewhere on her Facebook page, in the comments after this post, there is a lot of support:

One comment in particular by someone named Brande Frame Keith:

It’s a little crazy that over the past week or two I have been using the term “medical rape” to describe vaccination of children and then you put it in a well spoken article very clearly. I have had women (non-vaxxers and vaxxers alike) more or less yell at me because I used the term rape. That it is insensitive and offensive. I, personally, am a victim of rape and I still do not find the term medical rape offensive. It is exactly WHY I drew the parallel in the first place. We are holding our child down, in the midst of their crying and screaming and adamant “No! No! No!”, while they try to scramble away from the hands they have trusted the most. They are being forced into something they don’t want, having people take risks with THEIR OWN bodies that they did not ask for, and THEY are the ones that suffer when it’s all said and done. Not the hands that held them down. (Jesus forgive me for doing this to my child *tears*). Whether it is a penis or a needle, it is no less violating.

So, according to Piper-Terry and her supportive commenters, a medical procedure designed to protect children against diseases that cause significant mortality and morbidity is a violation, an assault akin to sexual assault, and the relationship between parents and pediatricians is an abusive relationship. My first thought was, “She can’t be serious, right?” My second thought was then, “Yes, unfortunately, she is serious.” She really does mean it, so much so that she carries the analogy even further, talking about how the “rapist”-pediatrician will say “It was consensual. After-all, you came here asking for it. What did you expect?” and how the parent, like a rape victim, is retraumatized every time she encounters the rapist in public.

It’s a despicable and inaccurate analogy, but Piper-Terry really believes it. Indeed, take a look at her notpology posted last night on Facebook:

In particular, look at these three comments, among other supportive comments. First, there is a comment from a woman who has suffered rape:

I am a multiple rape survivor. I’ve also had pieces of my child ripped from me by an overzealous pediatrician who used scare tactics and bullying to coerce me into vaccine submission. Guess which keeps me up at night. I’m not downplaying the trauma of the rape I endured. It was horrendous. I am damaged. I always will be. But I would endure it 100X over to spare my child the pain of vaccine reaction. My rapist violated me in a single horrible act between two people… Vaccine damage is worse experience (for me) because I stood there and allowed it to happen to my child. I held her still and I facilitated the damage, pain, and PTSD that she endures. I helped them rip away pieces of her future. Her body was violated with toxic poison by a GROUP of people who should have been there to nurture, heal, and care for her. I hope a lot of people get pissed off. Maybe they will start paying attention and allowing the pharma gangs to rape our children.

Here’s another comment from another woman that reveals how antivaccinationists think about vaccination:

The comparison is right on target! A child held down while being repeatedly stabbed with needles full of vile poison that will change their entire life forever, possibly even steal their life is no different than a person held down and forcibly violated sexually, how you could come under fire for this very viable comparison tells me people aren’t thinking clearly!


Marcella Piper-Terry, I’m sorry you received strong criticism for the truths you continue to say, your story of rape is not a thought I myself haven’t thought, I over and over have played in my head the scenario, I’ve asked friends, if your daughter/son was raped and the rapist walked the streets immune to any prosecution, how would you feel? That’s our story, our rapists continue on raping without any fear of justice, it’s legalized victimization of the most innocent and helpless of our society, our children.

Given how many other horrible things antivaccinationists compare vaccinations to, I’d be willing to bet that this likening of pediatricians giving vaccines to rapists and the process of vaccination to rape resonates among more than a few antivaccinationists. In fact, seeing Piper-Terry’s post reminded me that this is not the first time I’ve heard this analogy. Three years ago, Meryl Dorey, the president of the Australian antivaccine group the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which was recently ordered to change its name by the New South Wales’ Office of Fair Trading and now apparently calls itself the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network. Three years ago, in response to a court case in which a child’s divorced mother was ordered as a result of legal action by the father to have her child vaccinated, Dorey wrote on the AVN Facebook page:

Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out.

This analogy was a bit too much even for some of Dorey’s supporters, who objected, leading to a classic notpology:

To anyone who was insulted or hurt by my comparing the forced vaccination of a child against the custodial parent’s wishes with rape, I do apologise wholeheartedly and without reservation.

I looked up the definition of rape prior to posting … that comparison and in the dictionary sense of the word, it is accurate. But I do understand that this is avexed issue and for those like the two who are close to me who have been victims of rape, the last thing I would want to do is cause them more pain.

Perhaps the term violation would have been better, and in future, I will use that word. Because this mother and her child are being violated in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start.

Marcella Piper-Terry and Meryl Dorey aren’t the only ones using rape analogies to describe vaccination. For instance, a chiropractor in Australia named Paul Lawrence once was caught saying on his Facebook page:

Someone removes your freedom of choice. You are forced, against your will to have their fluids injected into your body. How is this different from rape?

Apparently, this chiropractor is too stupid to understand the difference. Of course, if he were smart enough to understand such a basic difference, maybe he wouldn’t be a chiropractor. Yes, this is the sort of analogy that appeals to antivaccinationists, who then deny they are antivaccine after using such analogies or trying to deny that they are antivaccine.

Longtime readers might remember that that our old buddy J.B. Handley was not above using rape analogies, although he didn’t use the analogy to describe vaccination itself. Rather, after journalist Amy Wallace wrote an article critical of the antivaccine movement, JB was not pleased. No, not pleased at all. So, as Wallace described, he wrote an article that he entitled “Paul Offit Rapes (intellectually) Amy Wallace and Wired Magazine” in which he said that “The roofie cocktails at Paul Offit’s house must be damn good.” Given that a roofie is a date rape drug, the clear implication is that the only reason Wallace would have written a pro-vaccine article is because she had been date raped by Paul Offit, metaphorically speaking. He later changed that to Wired Magazine and Amy Wallace Drink Paul Offit’s Kool-Aid and changed the references to roofies to “drinking the Kool Aid.” As Abel Pharmboy put it at the time, When critics disagree with me, I’m a Pharma Shill. When critics disagree with a woman, it gets sexual.

To antivaccinationists, vaccination is the Holocaust. It’s the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s Auschwitz (complete with Dr. Josef Mengele’s horrific experiments), before which antivaccinationists view themselves as much victims as Jews in Germany during the Nazi regime. It’s Stalin. It’s the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. It’s a tsunami washing away everything before it.

And it’s child rape, too.

There’s a disturbing amount of rape imagery, both subtle and not-so-subtle, in the language used by antivaccinationists to describe vaccination. I’d be more likely to see a glimmer of a beginning of a reason to believe the protestations by antivaccinationists that they are “not antivaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” if not for all the apocalyptic rhetoric and rape analogies. Rare is the case when I see anyone on the “antivaccine” side publicly call out such rhetoric, even when antivaccinationists liken vaccines to the Holocaust or sexual assault. The reason, I suspect, is because most antivaccinationists are at least sympathetic to such analogies but don’t use them publicly because they know how inflammatory and despicably ridiculous those not steeped in the false victimhood of the antivaccine movement find them.