“A shot of truth: Ending the religious exemption for vaccines is constitutional.”
That’s the headline of a New York Daily News editorial published on August 15, 2019. The article begins:
Acting like members of some cult blind to science and public health, a mob of anti-vaccine kooks packed an Albany courtroom Wednesday to watch lawyers argue their ludicrous case that parents have a constitutional right to spread communicable diseases and endanger the lives of others. Their deluded leader Robert Kennedy Jr. was there, supporting the spectacle.
Further down, the editors provide the following for context:
After America’s worst measles outbreak in more than a quarter century, which centered in heavily ultra-Orthodox Jewish areas of Brooklyn and Rockland County, the Legislature had the guts to finally end the easy way out of the shots. Only a medical waiver, on a case-by-case basis, can excuse youngsters from getting their vaccines.
Then they conclude:
The antivaxxers claim it violates the First Amendment, showing they know very little about both vaccines and the First Amendment.
Vaccines are safe. No credible science exists showing otherwise. None.
The First Amendment has some sensible limits, including on religion. And requiring a benign, but life-saving shot, violates no one’s freedom of conscience.
New Yorkers who don’t want to vaccinate their kids are still free to do so; they’ll just have to homeschool their kids, or keep them out of day camp or any other similar public gathering place. Parents claiming religious exemption to avoid vaccinating their children aren’t expressing religious liberty —they’re violating the social contract that binds us all.
But it is the editors of the NY Daily News who are behaving here as members of a cult that is blind to science and public health, a mob of pro-vaccine fascists arguing the ludicrous case that vaccination entails no risk and that parents have no right to informed consent because some fantastical “social contract” has taken that right away from them.
The Inviolable Right to Informed Consent
The right to informed consent is one of the most fundamental ethics in medicine. In the wake of World War II and revelations about the Nazis’ use of humans for medical experimentation, the international community formally recognized informed consent as a fundamental human right. The Nuremberg Code established medical ethics principles starting with this: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”
This means, among other things, that the subject must be in a position “to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion”.
Additionally, the subject “should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.”
The right to informed consent has also been codified in the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states under Article 7 that “no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”
The updated 2002 edition of the International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects—guidelines promulgated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences—states that, “For all biomedical research involving humans the investigator must obtain the voluntary informed consent of the prospective subject or, in the case of an individual who is not capable of giving informed consent, the permission of a legally authorized representative….”
This right is also codified in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, adopted at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in October 2005: “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information…. Scientific research should only be carried out with the prior, free, express and informed consent of the person concerned. The information should be adequate, provided in a comprehensible form and should include modalities for withdrawal of consent…. In no case should a collective community agreement or the consent of a community leader or other authority substitute for an individual’s informed consent.” (Emphasis added.)
Yet substituting individual informed consent with state authority is precisely what the federal and state governments are doing when it comes to the practice of vaccination. When the state uses coercion to gain compliance, such by mandating vaccination in order to receive a public education, it constitutes an assault on this fundamental human right.
The N.Y. Daily News editors, rather than addressing any of the real arguments presented by those who dissent from or criticize public vaccine policy, resort to the strawman fallacy by falsely and maliciously attributing to them the belief that they “have a constitutional right to spread communicable diseases and endanger the lives of others”.
Of course, the dissenters believe no such thing. Nobody who chooses to be incompliant with the CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule does so because they think they have a right to make other people sick. But it is instructive that these editors have deluded themselves into the belief that they have some kind of “right” to be free from exposure to potentially pathogenic viruses and bacteria. This is preposterous. While nobody has a right to deliberately infect others with intent to cause harm, neither does anybody have a right to be free from exposure to pathogens, and if the N.Y. Daily News editors have children of their own and wish them not to be exposed to generally benign infections like measles and chicken pox, by their own standard, they are free to homeschool their children and keep them away from public gathering areas. They do not have a right to have the state forcibly compel other parents to put their children at risk of harm from vaccination just because they are afraid of such diseases.
The N.Y. Daily News editors say that “New Yorkers who don’t want to vaccinate their kids are still free to do so”, but that is a patently false statement that illustrates their extraordinary cognitive dissonance. If parents wish for their child to attend school, but they are denied that choice by the state, then, by definition, they are not “free” to choose. Rather, their choice not to strictly comply with public vaccine policy comes at a cost. They are being punished for it by bureaucrats exercising domination over them. That is the opposite of exercising personal freedom.
Similarly, if parents who don’t want to strictly comply with the CDC’s routine childhood vaccine schedule would prefer to homeschool but due to their circumstances simply cannot, they are also not “free” to act according to their conscience.
In either case, the outcome—either to homeschool or to comply with public vaccine policy—is compulsory. In either case, the parents are being forced to do something that they are not choosing freely to do.
In short, the N.Y. Daily News editors, notwithstanding their meaningless comment about parents still being “free” to do as they please, are advocating forced vaccination.
A Shot of Truth: Vaccines Are Dangerous
The first entry for Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word “safe” is “free from harm or risk”. Vaccination is not a medical practice that is free from harm or risk. Hence, by definition, vaccines are not safe.
That vaccination entails risk is not even remotely controversial. You will not find any studies in the scientific literature that claim that there’s no risk involved in vaccinating children.
The first entry for the definition of the word “dangerous” is “involving possible injury, pain, harm, or loss”. Vaccination involves the possibility of injury, pain, and harm—including death. Hence, by definition, vaccines are dangerous.
Yet the editors of the NY Daily News claim:
Vaccines are safe. No credible science exists showing otherwise. None.
In fact, the federal government itself administrates what’s called the “Vaccine Injury Compensation Program”, which was established under a 1986 law that granted near total legal immunity to the pharmaceutical industry from injury lawsuits for vaccine products recommended for routine use in children. The effect of this program is thus to shift the financial burden for vaccine injuries away from the pharmaceutical companies and onto the taxpaying consumers.
So, there are two possibilities here. One is that the N.Y. Daily News editors are totally ignorant about the science when they hypocritically condescend to and mock others who don’t share their self-delusion that vaccination entails no risk.
The other is that they know that vaccination entails risk and are lying willfully and with malicious intent when they make the preposterous claim that there is no credible scientific evidence that vaccines can cause harm.
There are no other possible explanations for this NY Daily News editorial.
And, of course, even if vaccines were completely benign, the editors would still be in no position to judge on behalf of others what does or does not violate their freedom of conscience. If a person believes, for example, that to inject a product into their child that contains DNA from the cell line of an aborted fetus would violate their religious beliefs, the NY Daily News editors are in no place to tell them that doing so wouldn’t. This is simply arrogant prejudice.
So, it is a matter of freedom of religion and the First Amendment. But it’s not just a matter of freedom of religion. It’s a matter of every parent’s right, regardless of any religious beliefs they might have, to choose for themselves what risky medical interventions their child will undergo. It’s a matter of our right to informed consent.
To deny that this right is protected under our Constitution is to reject the very founding principle that it is a self-evident truth that among our unalienable rights is the right to liberty.
The state does not own our bodies or our children’s bodies. We are not chattel to be done with however corrupt and ignorant bureaucrats please.
The NY Daily News editors advocating coercive vaccination aren’t upholding any kind of contract that any of us have signed on to. They are blatantly lying to the public for the purpose of advocating the violation of a fundamental human right.
For more information about how public vaccine policy threatens both our health and our liberty, read my article “How Public Vaccine Policy Violates Our Right to Informed Consent”.
And please join me in thanking Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for standing up to defend our freedom against the mob of ignorant cultists assaulting our health freedom on the basis of their unscientific vaccine dogma: