Something in the air tells me that the rights of Britain’s parents to determine whether to have their children vaccinated may soon be withdrawn. There are straws in the wind that could add up to nothing – or to a profound reversal of human rights in the UK.
The first straw has been the continuing decline of mass vaccination levels in the UK. Currently, they stand at just 79 per cent of the population, a clear indication of parental concern about a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The UK is now very far away from the World Health Organization’s ambitions of a 95-per-cent vaccinated population.
The second straw, leading from the first, is the pronouncement of the UK’s Health Protection Agency that Britain will now inevitably suffer a measles epidemic because vaccination levels are too low to prevent one.
The third has been the state’s intervention in the case of the two mothers who have refused to vaccinate their children against the express wishes of the children’s estranged fathers. The courts found in favour of the fathers, who considered the mothers’ fears over the vaccination’s safety to be groundless – and three judges at the Court of Appeal recently supported the original judgement.
One, Chief Justice Sedbury, endorsed the original finding and dismissed the mothers’ concerns as being based on ‘junk science’. Outside of a court of law, such a statement could be libelous against the reputation of Dr Andrew Wakefield and other pioneers who have brought to the public’s attention their concerns about autism.
Certainly, various government agencies have been in overdrive to attack Wakefield and others who have pointed at a link, but nobody has been able to absolutely refute the point. Junk science it certainly is not.
The concerns of all parents, whether or not in the High Court, remain legitimate. Any society that fails to prove beyond all doubt (and not even reasonable doubt) that something it is advocating is completely safe cannot be surprised if its citizens then assume the role of responsible guardians on its behalf.
On that basis, any court that finds in favour of one parent over another is derelict in its duty, which is to protect the health and wellbeing of a child beyond any doubts as to the safety of the means used to achieve that objective.
Our decision to support one of the mothers is considered by some to be faulty, if not partial. Why do we favour the mother over the father, some have asked.
That question is an irrelevance, as is our view on vaccinations. The argument pivots on society’s right to force a mother (and child) to undertake a procedure that it has failed to establish is safe.
But the line has been crossed. Society, in the shape of the courts, seeks to compulsorily vaccinate two children against their will and that of the mothers.
Can a government that can attack another country against the will of the majority of its people stay its hand in what, by comparison, is the relatively benign issue of compulsory vaccination? We fear not, and that is why we continue our support of the MMR mothers.
To support the MMR mothers, please send your cheques (made payable to ‘The MMR fund’) to: WDDTY, 2 Salisbury Road, London SW19 4EZ. You can e-mail credit-card donations to: MMRFund@wddty.co.uk, or fax them to 020 8944 9888.
Bryan Hubbard and Lynne McTaggart