Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
Parents Protest "Child Rape"
Group Rallies Against Bill Requiring Medical Consultation Prior to Rejection of Immunization
"Keep government busybodies away from my daughter's antibodies!"
"If they can't trust me with this choice, how can they trust me with a child?"
As the archconservative news site KPBS.org noted last week, "Parents who don't want their kids immunized can currently sign a statement that said immunization is against their beliefs. Democratic state Assemblyman Richard Pan's bill would require a signed form from a doctor that said the benefits and risks of immunization have been discussed."
Now liberal activists have begun rallying against the measure, decrying it as a naked attempt to curtail the hard-won rights of parents when it comes to making personal health care decisions for their children.
"There's a word for when you go inserting something into a child against her will, and that word is 'rape,'" says Martha Van Blunderbuss, co-founder of Parents Rejecting Immunization for Children and Kids (PRICK).
"When lawmakers decide that they can force doctors to jab a needle into my daughter's bottom, when they bring politics into what is clearly a juvenile health issue - well, I think it's fair to say that this is nothing less than a Democratic War on Children."
The bill, of course, does not actually mandate immunization. It merely requires consultation with a doctor about the risks and benefits of the decision not to immunize. But Van Blunderbuss says the seemingly mild language of the bill is just a cover for coercive tactics.
"Everybody knows what the doctor wants here: immunization. How can he be expected to give a real account of the risks and benefits involved? All too often, these discussions are nothing more than attempts to mislead the patient and shame her into doing something that is not actually in her best interest. We've heard of cases of doctors displaying gruesome photographs of so-called 'disease victims' - making an already difficult decision even more traumatic."
Doctors, such as La Jolla's Bernard Golden, grant that they are in favor of immunization. "The decision whether or not to immunize involves more people than just the parent and child," explains Golden.
"Un-immunized children, while they may seem to be nothing more than a bunch of undiseased cells, nevertheless have the potential to develop into a human carrier of devastating pathogens. It's a possibility that we have to take seriously."
"It seems to me," concludes Golden, "that the parent's right to choose must be weighed against the public's right to a healthy life."
For her part, Van Blunderbuss plans to thrust PRICK into the national spotlight through a series of "potentially explosive" encounters with the medical and political establishment. "There's going to be a great big PRICK meetup at next month's American Medical Association convention," she promises. "And it's only going to get bigger from there."
"We think parents, especially mothers, will be attracted to PRICK, because PRICK refuses to just go limp in the face of ugly displays of governmental hubris. PRICK will stand up and demand the attention of politicians and public alike. And we will have our say. We must. After all, we're doing it for the children."