I have spent the last two weeks or so defending Jill Stein’s position on vaccines and homeopathy. Many of you know I am a supporter of the Green Party, in general, and of Stein’s bid for office. While I have called for a smart state voting strategy and the necessity of defeating Trump, her comments today have really set me off.
She has been asked many times to clarify her position, by myself and others, and she now has. In an interview with the Washington Post, she detailed her views. Much of what I had defended was correct, she does see them as valuable and believes many people have an issue with the money in the healthcare industry that leads to the distrust in vaccines.
Yet, then she really lost me, because she kept talking. The problem is, she is pushing that fear of the industry, just as she does with GMOs (an issue I have been vocally opposed of with her platform).
Here is how she starts:
“I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication,” Stein said. “Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say? — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust. And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.” [Emphasis mine.]
I don’t have an overall issue with this statement because she is correct, people do have issues with those institutions. Wrongly, but they do. Not everyone is scientifically literate and people fear what they don’t understand and they fear that profit is too much of a driving force in science and medicine. Of course, this is misplaced distrust, but we know it exists.
Here is where I blew my lid, and where I have to hold Stein accountable for pushing this distrust.
“As a medical doctor, there was a time where I looked very closely at those issues, and not all those issues were completely resolved,” Stein said. “There were concerns among physicians about what the vaccination schedule meant, the toxic substances like mercury which used to be rampant in vaccines. There were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don’t know if all of them have been addressed.” [Emphasis mine.]
There is no scientific evidence that the low levels of mercury in vaccines is unsafe. A medical doctor should know this.
Also, mercury hasn’t been in most childhood vaccines for more than a decade.
Stein is now stroking the anti-vaccination movement fears and playing right into their hands.
Does she think vaccines work? Yes. “We have a real compelling need for vaccinations,” Stein said. However, you can’t use bad science as a way to fight for better regulations, or a not-for-profit health incentive.
“It requires an agency that we can trust to sort through all of those concerns. To assure the American public, whether it’s vaccinations, whether it’s administering estrogen to, you know, treat symptoms of menopause, or at one point it was the solution to prevent Alzheimer’s and then it was discovered — oh, my goodness — it may actually contribute to Alzheimer’s — it’s really important that the American public have confidence in our regulatory boards so that all of our medical treatments and medications actually are approved by people who do not have a vested interest in their promotion. In my experience, this is not a radical idea. This is basic common sense.”
While I still feel okay saying Stein is not “anti-vaccine” I cannot confidently say she is not anti-science and that she does not overly pander to the anti-science and anti-vaccine crowd.
A leader needs to stand up against the movement that is killing children, not court their vote.
I am not one to make rash decisions, abandon a candidate based on one interview. Yet, this has me beat red and writing this while basically punching my keyboard.
I can overlook some bad science positions, no one is perfect, when it comes to GMOs, Stein couldn’t be more wrong. “Monsanto lobbyists help run the day in those agencies and are in charge of approving what food isn’t safe,” said Stein, while touting her platform that calls for a complete halt of all GMOs in the country.
I can debate her on that and maybe change the party’s mind.
But when it comes to vaccines, that is a make or break for me. I am mad, disappointed, and let down by this Harvard educated medical doctor.
We have to do better.
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