The recent measles outbreak has touched off a firestorm of controversy over the issue of childhood vaccinations. The controversy pits parental-rights advocates on one side against government-control advocates on the other. Those opposed to vaccinations claim that parents have the right to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children. Those who favor vaccinations are trying to cast the question as a public-health issue in which the government has the right to force parents to vaccinate. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, make sure you understand this one critical fact: The debate is not about public health, it is about government control.
First some background. Just the fact that we are having a debate over government coerced vaccinations versus parental rights shows how far to the left our country has tilted. I am old enough to remember when every kid in my neighborhood got the measles. Measles outbreaks were a common and accepted part of life when I was in elementary school in the 1950s. There was nothing controversial about measles—they were just a fact of life. But in today’s environment of government control and coercion, refusing to have a child vaccinated is being treated like child abuse. In fact, it is no exaggeration to suggest that the time is coming when government officials will forcibly take custody of children whose parents refuse to have them vaccinated, regardless of why they refuse.
Interestingly the controversy is not of the typical liberal/conservative variety. Rather, it crosses over all political, social, economic, and religious lines. People of all stripes can be found on both sides of the issue. Consequently, advocates of government coercion have had to find non-political arguments to support their opinions; arguments that do not breakdown along traditional political lines. Said another way, government coercion advocates cannot simply label opponents of vaccinations right-wing kooks, bigots, or racists as they are prone to do when debating other issues.
So what arguments are government coercion advocates using to attack those who oppose childhood vaccinations? The answer is simple. Since in this case they cannot use their favorite terms—bigot and racist—they are claiming that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are not qualified to make such a decision. You heard me right. Parents are not qualified to make this important decision for their own children. Consequently, our all-knowing, big-hearted government—a government that presumes to care more for children than do their own parents—must step in and make the decision for the parents. Said another way—and more accurately—these constitutionally challenged vaccination advocates argue that government coercion trumps parental rights.
Since government control advocates insist that parents are not qualified to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children, a question arises concerning qualifications. What qualifications do parents need in order to make vital decisions about their children? Good question. Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children typically do so on the basis of one or more of the following reasons: 1) concerns about the long-term side effects of vaccinations (side effects that could be much worse than a case of measles), 2) religious beliefs, or 3) parental rights. Am I as a parent qualified to debate on the basis of any or all of these reasons? Let’s consider the question.
I am neither a physician nor a research scientist. Consequently, government coercion advocates tell me I am not qualified to raise concerns about the long-term health questions associated with vaccinations. According to them, I should cede the debate to those who are better qualified in this area. But there is a problem with this argument. Though not a medical professional or scientist, I can read and having done so it is abundantly clear that serious questions are going unanswered concerning the long-term health effects that might be associated with vaccinating children. There are certainly enough unanswered questions in this area that parents—even those who are not physicians or scientists—should be afforded the benefit of the doubt when it comes to vaccinating their children.
As to religious objections to vaccinations, I am not a theologian. Consequently, government control advocates tell me I should cede the debate over religious objections to vaccinations to those more informed in this important area. While I will certainly leave the details of religious objections to those more informed on this aspect of the debate, I can still enter the fray at the big-picture level. The big-picture is this: The United States has a long and commendable history of acknowledging and accepting religious objections to societal norms (e.g. granting conscientious objector status on the basis of religious beliefs). Allowing religious concerns as exceptions to majority points of view is one of the things that made America a great nation, as in “majority rules and minority rights.”
Unfortunately, we Americans are losing ground when it comes to the rights of religious citizens. In contemporary American society, religious beliefs are being rapidly eroded and replaced by government control. If this continues, we will lose more than just our religious freedom. We will lose what it means to be an American. This fact alone qualifies me and every other taxpaying American citizen to join the debate over religious objections to government coerced vaccinations. If the government can force parents to vaccinate their children, the same government can force the Amish to serve in the military. In fact, if parents can be forced to vaccinate their children in opposition to their religious beliefs, why can’t the children of Amish families be required to serve in the military? Either we recognize the legitimate objections of religious minorities or we don’t.
Finally, let me state clearly and unequivocally why every American—despite what government control advocates like to claim—is qualified to enter the fray and offer informed opinions concerning the vaccination controversy. You, the reader, are just as qualified to debate the issue of vaccines as the most prominent physicians, renowned scientists, and esteemed theologians. The reason you are qualified to participate in this important debate is simple: you are an American citizen who pays taxes and votes. No other qualification is necessary. The vaccination issue is not about medicine, science, or theology. It is about politics—specifically government control trumping parental rights. When the issue devolves into politics, every taxpaying American citizen has the right and responsibility to participate.
This being the case, a few comments about the issue of vaccinations for children are in order. If you can read this article, you can read the Constitution and I hope you will do so—unlike those who advocate for government coerced vaccinations while ignoring the Constitution. No matter how many times you read the Constitution, you will find nothing in it that gives the government ownership of the individual’s body. This is the basic argument upon which the infamous Roe V. Wade decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 40 years ago. When it comes to abortion, liberals still like to claim that nobody has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her own body. But when it comes to vaccinations, they sing a different tune. Those of us who oppose abortion do so because it constitutes the murder of unborn children, not because we believe the government has ownership of a woman’s body.
I have wondered from the outset why we are making such a big issue out of a measles epidemic when such outbreaks used to be a normal part of daily life in this country. All of the hullabaloo about vaccinations makes no sense unless you look beyond the self-righteous handwringing of government control advocates, apply a little common sense, and realize what is really happening here. Big-government liberals see an opportunity in this situation. They are using fear mongering tactics and hypocritical appeals about the public’s health to advance their real agenda, an agenda that has nothing to do with the measles. It is their agenda of increased government control over individual citizens ala Orwell’s “1984.”