Friday, April 24, 2015

When parents, "free to make unwise decisions", doom their children to deformity

At the heart of the profound disagreements among Ds and Rs, progressives and conservatives, is the power of the state to compel behaviors that serve the common good. Two instances of that divide are in the area of public health: sex education and immunizations. This morning I address the latter.

The state of Arizona enshrines parental choice to not immunize against diseases, like Rubella, in its statutes. From ARS 15-872:

A. The director of the department of health services, in consultation with the superintendent of public instruction, shall develop by rule standards for documentary proof.

B. A pupil shall not be allowed to attend school without submitting documentary proof to the school administrator unless the pupil is exempted from immunization pursuant to section 15-873.

So what's with 15-873? From ARS 15-873A1:

The parent or guardian of the pupil submits a signed statement to the school administrator stating that the parent or guardian has received information about immunizations provided by the department of health services and understands the risks and benefits of immunizations and the potential risks of nonimmunization and that due to personal beliefs, the parent or guardian does not consent to the immunization of the pupil.

"personal beliefs?" Hold that thought.

From Daily Kos: A Heartwarming Story With A Terrible Lesson for Anti-Vaxers

You can judge for yourself, but I find it heartbreaking. And I doubt that this article and the many other instances of the dangers of voluntary nonimmunization will prove educational to anti-vaxers. By the time a parent reaches that stage, the belief system is beyond science or medicine and hence beyond rational debate and persuasion. But read the story and then continue here.

Back in 2012, I exchanged email with then candidate for the AZ House, Chris Ackerly, about mandatory immunization which I argued for on the grounds of public health benefits. He responded (rom August 29, 2012 email, Chris Ackerley to me):

I believe public schools, both district and charter, should require children be immunized and/or be able to place restrictions on participation base on immunizations. I would hope private schools would also act responsibly. I would also support spending state resources to promote education efforts and provided access to immunization programs. But again, I do not believe the State has the authority to compel parents to immunize children. Freedom sometimes means people are free to make unwise decisions.

What he did not address was the horrible cost of such unwise decisions. Now reread the Daily Kos piece for a rather graphic illustration of why I think I am on the correct, wise side of this issue and Ackerley is not.

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