by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
Plenty of pundits are analyzing the Wednesday night GOP debate in terms of who won and who lost. They are missing the point. There was a huge loser in the back and forth among the contenders—the public health of the American people. Why?–the resurrection in the debate of the heinous canard that vaccination causes autism.
Donald Trump led the assault on the health of our children by proclaiming that “”We’ve had so many instances … a child went to have the vaccine, got very, very sick, and now is autistic.” Really? Donald produce your evidence or get your racist, misogynist, birther, comb-over tushy out of the race. There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism. None. No one should tolerate outright lying that puts vulnerable kids at risk from a would-be President. So Donald show us your proof or leave Americas kids alone.
Trump was joined in his irresponsible yammering by the two doctors who are candidates, Ben Carson and Rand Paul. After stating that there were studies showing no link between autism and vaccines, Carson than backpedaled, suggesting that there could be a link, “It has not been adequately revealed to the public what’s actually going on” he said thereby giving priority to fringe conspiracy theorists everywhere rather than a mountain of scientific data showing definitively no link to autism whatsoever. Rand Paul helpfully chirped in with the suggestion that we endorse evidence-free claims for stretching out the vaccine schedule ““I’m also for freedom” he gravely intoned,
“I ought to have the right so spread my vaccines out, at the very least”. Tell it to America’s pediatricians Rand. They find no basis for concern about the vaccine schedule other than putting your child and other kids at risk by delaying their shots.
So the American public and the American media now have a stark choice. Should lying and basely fear-mongering that can sicken, disable or kill vulnerable newborns, fetuses and children qualify you to be President. If so I am afraid the biggest losers in last night’s debate were you, me and our kids and grandkids.