By Karen Ernst
Editor's Note: At a committee hearing in the Minnesota State Legislature on January 30th, state representative Mary Franson made comments about autism and vaccines in an otherwise unrelated discussion about whether insurance companies should be compelled to cover services relating to an autism diagnosis. These comments are representative of Franson's ideas about vaccines, as she has sponsored several bills that would weaken current state immunization rules. Below is parent Karen Ernst's response to Franson's comments.
I’m deeply disturbed by Minnesota State Representative Mary Franson’s comments during the House Health and Human Services Policy committee meeting on January 30, 2013. While discussing funding for autism services, Franson commented: “As a mother of three children, I am very thankful than none of my children have had to experience autism, or my family hasn't had to go through that experience. But also, I'm one of those parents that no longer vaccines [sic] either because of the fear that I have had talking to other parents that have experienced their child becoming--experiencing autism after what they found, what they believed correlated with the vaccinations.”
I know many children on the autism spectrum. Their parents are grateful that they are who they are and do not wish for them to be different. Their parents also readily protect their children from diseases prevented by vaccinating them. The fear of autism is spread along with anti-vaccine misinformation, and neither is based on reality.
Stated plainly: vaccines do not cause autism. Andrew Wakefield, whose poorly designed study was retracted shortly before he lost his license to practice medicine, has gained much financially in promoting the dangerous and erroneous idea that vaccines are linked to autism, but they are not. Dozens of studies across the globe have shown that vaccines and autism are not related at all. The science is settled.
One wonders why an elected representative is promoting both thoroughly debunked ideas about vaccines and hurtful sentiments about autism. Let’s hold our representatives to a higher standard and demand that they be grateful for the existence of all children and that they support measures that prevent potentially deadly diseases.