Is Hillary really for the children?

Posted: Nov 08, 2000 12:00 AM
That great national authority on health care and on children, Hillary Rodham Clinton, owes it to her public to give her opinion on two current controversies in New York State. Does she support government-mandated medical treatment of children over the objections of their parents? In Utica, N.Y., parents of 77 middle-schoolers were warned in October that their children will be taken and turned over to Child Protective Services for neglect unless they are vaccinated against hepatitis B within two weeks. Yet, there is no emergency, no epidemic of hepatitis B against which children need to be protected, and no evidence that hepatitis B is being transmitted at school. The emergency is that the school district will lose a substantial amount of state funding if students do not comply with the vaccine mandate. So school-district physician Dr. Mark Zongrone, giving his financial (not medical) diagnosis, says, "We refuse to let that happen." How did we get to a circumstance in America where a school, for its own financial self-interest, imposes medical treatment on children in opposition to their parents' wishes? Is this America or Nazi Germany? Hepatitis B is primarily an adult disease spread by having multiple sex partners, abusing drugs and working at occupations in which workers are exposed to blood. Unless the child is born to an infected mother, children under the age of 14 are three times more likely to die or suffer adverse reactions from the hepatitis B vaccine than to catch the disease itself. Down the highway in Albany in September, a family court judge ordered the controversial drug Ritalin to be given to a 7-year-old diagnosed as having Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The parents, who had tried Ritalin but wanted to stop it because of adverse effects, were visited by the Albany County Child Protective Services, served with a petition to appear in court, and intimidated into compliance by what was described as "at least the theoretical threat of having their child removed from their custody." Public schools are increasingly accusing parents of neglect when the parents refuse to drug children with Ritalin, and some parents are fighting back. Two major class-action lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of Ritalin, and Britain's National Institute of Clinical Excellence is expected soon to announce strict guidelines for its use and even ban it for children younger than 5. We would be very interested in Hillary Clinton's comment about these New York cases. We would also like to know where she stands on the letter Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, wrote to Health and Human Services Department Secretary Donna Shalala on Oct. 25. His letter was the result of a July 18 hearing that produced evidence about the health dangers from vaccines containing thimerosal, or mercury. Babies who are injected with the vaccines specified on the Universal Childhood Immunization Schedule, which are typically delivered in four to six shots during one doctor's visit, may receive 40 times the amount of mercury that is considered safe under Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. An independent evaluation conducted by the National Research Council confirmed the EPA guidelines as accurate, and the FDA's own Web site states that "lead, cadmium, and mercury are examples of elements that are toxic when present at relatively low levels." Credible testimony was also given regarding the possible relationship between symptoms of mercury poisoning and the skyrocketing rate of autism, now occurring in one in 500 children nationwide. Requests to the Food and Drug Administration to recall all thimerosal-containing vaccines by Chairman Burton and by parents of vaccine-injured children, have so far been ignored. This is despite the fact that the FDA admits that the vaccines on the Childhood Immunization Schedule are all available in a thimerosal-free version. Apparently, the FDA is not planning to recall any of the 50 thimerosal-containing vaccines, but only suggests a phaseout over time, thus allowing the pharmaceuticals to unload their defective merchandise on unsuspecting children. For years to come, these toxic vaccines will continue to be injected in babies in Public Health Clinics, doctors' offices, and managed-care facilities. It is unconscionable to continue to put thousands of babies every day at risk from mercury poisoning, especially when the government is recommending use of these vaccines and the schools are making them mandatory and when safe alternatives are easily available. Leaving these dangerous vaccines on the market so that the pharmaceuticals can continue to receive revenue from current inventories seems to be the pattern. Even after it was known that oral polio and whole-cell pertussis vaccines caused a higher rate of adverse reactions, clinics and doctors continued to use their supplies for years rather than pitch them in favor of safer vaccines. If there is any reason for HHS and FDA to continue to put thousands of babies at risk from dangerous vaccines other than to protect the profits of the powerful pharmaceuticals, we'd like to know what that might be. What does our great national health-care authority, the one who wants the village to raise children, have to say about the government's responsibility for vaccine injuries to children?