A Ringside View of Vaccine Exemption Law Hearings in Colorado
by Shelley O’Neill, MD
This was my first time attending a legislative committee hearing and boy did I pick a doozy. The bill being heard was Colorado HB 1312, which essentially plans to treat vaccine injured families who now want to decline even one shot, as ignorant criminals that need to be entered into a registry and tracked, forced into in-person meetings with state bureaucrats to be “educated” and forced into compelled speech by signing a form stating they are harming their child. People who decline one or more of of the 72 required doses, would have their private medical information revealed to the state but those who accept all 72 doses get to keep their medical information private. It also wipes out 99% of medical exemptions, replacing the doctor’s authority for the state’s. It doubles the number of required vaccines and also applies to homeschooled children. This bill is a big stinking pile of garbage.
The hearing room was small, holding about a hundred seats. [The image above is of a different HB 1312 meeting – Larry] One thousand parents showed up in opposition, packing the halls, rooms and walkways, with kids in tow, many disabled and vaccine injured. They were there hours ahead of time to stand in line for a seat in the hearing room. Hundreds of parents signed up to testify. The establishment made sure the people (peasants?) knew their place as most of the chairs were tied off and reserved for lobbyists, vaccine researchers and medical types. Those elites also had their parking and food provided. They showed up late, waltzed in right past the lines of defiant families and left after giving their testimony. Only about 20 parents were allowed in the hearing room initially. The rest were ushered to different parts of the building and gathered in groups around their phones to listen to the proceedings. The chair announced that she would call panels of 4, each person would get 2 minutes to speak, followed by 10 minutes of questions/discussion. I calculated that this format would be 42 hours of testimony just for opposition. Clearly many of us would not be heard today.
As the hours drew on, people had to leave to attend to their kids or work the next day. I stayed until the bitter end. I finally moved into the hearing room around 7 pm and testimonies lasted until 3:30 am. There were about 30 testimonials for the bill. The proponents said the same old bumper sticker slogans, “safe and effective”, “one in a million”, “vaccines don’t cause ____”. The words “pseudoscience” and “conspiracy theories” were used more than once while ignoring all the injured families around them.
There were a few non-establishment people that spoke for their side. One was a family who told a heartbreaking story of losing a child to bacterial meningitis, the other an older man who was a polio survivor and the third was a mother whose child had a kidney condition and “could not receive the MMR”, so felt it was important that everyone else get it to protect her.
I choked up listening to the family describe losing their child to meningitis and wished that had not happened. But I also knew that vaccinating millions with our current vaccine would not be the answer. I wondered if they knew that meningococcal meningitis is very rare, with an average of 400 cases out of 325 million and that with treatment the survival rate is 90%. I wondered if they knew that the vaccine for meningitis only gives temporary protection and if given to a million Colorado children, 10,000 of them would suffer severe injury and at least 30 would die?
I wondered if the polio survivor knew that back when he had paralytic polio (which only happens 1% of the time), the treatments of immobilization and casting ensured a permanent paralysis and we now know that proper physical therapy would have helped many of those children completely recover? I wondered if he knew that this bill doesn’t affect the polio vaccine but rather adds dozens of doses of newer, controversial, unsafe, unneeded or ineffective vaccines to the already bloated schedule?
The third case was particularly ironic, b/c this bill does not recognize her daughter’s condition as one that would qualify for a medical exemption, so if it passes, the medical exemption that she has enjoyed would vanish. So essentially she was testifying against herself and her daughter’s interests. Even more ironically, the people she was implying were a threat to her, were actually defending her daughter’s right to obtain a medical exemption based on her doctor’s judgement and defending her medical privacy.
Besides the few cases above, all the other testimonies in favor of the bill were from the medical establishment—pharmacists, nurses, pediatricians, infectious disease doctors, public health officers and Pharma funded researchers/scientists.
Approximately 150 spoke in opposition. There were 4 Chiropractors, 1 Acupuncturist, 2 “Vaccine Risk Aware” MD’s (including me), a representative from NVIC, Del Bigtree, and the rest were vaccine injured families, although many of the parents were also highly educated professionals, such as nurses, nurse practitioners, PhD’s etc. The testimonies of vaccine injury were powerful and heartbreaking. Even more heartbreaking was that these stories of grief, devastation, seizures, regression, disability and death did not touch the 7 Democratic legislators’ stone cold hearts. They were silent, dismissive or combative. A few of them dozed off during the testimony. Much of the time they appeared distracted by whatever was on their phones/laptops. The bill’s main sponsor would come and go a lot and missed much of the testimony, instead choosing to congregate with lobbyists in the hall. The 4 Republican legislators were attentive, listening and clearly touched by the stories. They asked excellent questions of both sides. The contrast between the 2 parties was stark and noticeable to all.
There were 3 exchanges with the Democratic legislators that took my breath away.
The first was from a pediatrician/representative who assailed a vaccine injured mother for speaking about MTHFR mutation. She implied that the mom must be confused or lying b/c she “knew” and stated unequivocally “that anyone who had double MTHFR mutation would have homocystinuria, which is screened for at birth!” She was very confident in her ignorance and could not be swayed. I so wished I had been up there to defend this mom and to let the other legislators know that pediatricians and allopaths in general do not study, utilize or understand epigenetics, detoxification or vaccine injury related to those factors and that their colleague was gravely misinformed. I and many others in that room have homozygous MTHFR mutation and can assure you we don’t have the diagnosis of homocystinuria.
For those that are curious, homocystinuria is an amino acid disorder that can be caused by many genetic polymorphisms, most commonly the CBS mutation. These newborns are screened for this disorder by measuring levels of amino acids and do not receive genetic snp testing. So children having the MTHFR mutation, which may predispose them to vaccine injury, would not know that before injections started.
MTHFR and other single nucleotide polymorphisms are not a genetic disorder like Down’s syndrome where everyone with that gene manifests with the same unalterable condition. These snp’s can turn on and off based on environmental factors and have many different manifestations, such as early heart disease, autoimmune disorders and intolerance to medications. Once again, pediatricians know very little about this and thus the hostile arrogance she demonstrated while shutting this informed mother down was shocking and quite symbolic of our bigger problems.
The second exchange was between an African American legislator who seemed not to care at all when presented with information that the CDC had committed scientific fraud around a study looking at autism in African American boys. Her very polite answer was “my nephew is high up in the CDC so I have all the information I need from him, but thanks anyway”. Wow.
The third comment was heartfelt and by a legislator who has a grandchild with autism. She stated that the child was different even before his 2 month shots and she knew that his autism was “just how he was and not a vaccine injury”. I wondered if she knew 4 vaccines are given in every pregnancy, hep B is given a few hours after birth and that the HepB vaccine at birth has a higher correlation to autism than tobacco does to lung cancer?
She went on to say that she found it very hurtful that anyone would suggest that vaccines cause autism because that wasn’t the case for her grandson. Yet she couldn’t see that denying the experience of hundreds in the room who had watched their children regress after vaccines was just as hurtful. What she didn’t seem to realize is not all autism is the same and assuming he was unvaccinated before 2 months old, both scenarios could be true. It is wrong to deny one version of reality while clinging to another, especially when the one chosen as valid lets Pharma and the CDC off the hook and throws hundreds of thousand of families under the bus.
The biggest outrage and wake up call for me, came at the very end of the hearing. The sergeant directs the seating in the hearing room and I was seated next to a woman who I didn’t know, but I assumed was a lobbyist and maybe even the bill’s author. I was annoyed by her constant typing on her computer, jumping up from her seat to gather with lobbyists and being completely oblivious and unconcerned with the heartfelt testimonies being shared, even rolling her eyes when people spoke about toxins.
Her incessant typing involved writing numerous legislators with talking points and followups, reinforcing the legislation and refuting points made by the opposition. I also saw a more formal email that she worked on for quite a while addressed to the bill’s sponsor. She was typing furiously on it, ignoring the father who was crying, describing the death of his infant. I watched her to see if she would even look up, but she just tic-tacked away, cold as ice. Her lack of humanity was disturbing and it saddened me. The email looked like a speech and I thought maybe it was for the next reading of the bill or an interview. But what do you know, as the sponsor began his closing remarks, it was word for word what I had watched her type just hours before.
I admit that I was naive and inexperienced as to how things work in the capitol but it made me sick to my stomach to watch someone so disrespectful and oblivious be able to “speak” through a puppet legislator, while everyone else clearly assumed his words were his own. It also really drove home for me what a David and Goliath fight this is, how it truly is a war by Pharma (with the help of media and legislators) against these already beleaguered families, their providers and the population as a whole.
I don’t have the language to describe the disgust, betrayal and fury I felt, as a life long Democrat, watching my party’s legislators, still vote down all reasonable amendments and pass this bill out of committee, despite 13+ hours of compelling testimony. They are on the wrong side of history. They heard the stories of injury, death and disability and just truly didn’t care. They heard the facts about corruption and scientific misconduct at the CDC and just truly didn’t care. It was clear that they witnessed the weird disconnect of doctors saying “this can’t happen”, while surrounded by hundreds of people saying “it happened to me”. Once again, they just didn’t care. Because you know, measles.
The same legislators who would lecture the Right about body autonomy and personal choice in reproductive matters clearly don’t apply those values here. The party who says they care about underrepresented and misunderstood minority groups clearly make an exception here. The party that would never tolerate the tracking and registry of Muslims are fine doing it to this minority group. The party that rejects the industry funded junk science questioning climate change and embraces independent researchers sounding the alarms, to explain what we can see with our own eyes, here cannot see that they are doing the opposite—whole heartedly swallowing industry funded junk science to prop up the “more vaccines the better” and the “nothing to see here” mantras and rejecting the independent scientists who are sounding the alarms, to explain the exploding rates of chronic disease that we all see with our own eyes.
My heart breaks for my party. My heart breaks for Colorado and the other states fighting similar battles. But most of all my heart breaks for the children who will be sickened, injured or killed by a vaccine program that has gone off the rails and then dismissed and bullied by our institutions, leaving their parents to pick up the pieces. There is no such thing as an “anti-vaxxer” or a “pro-vaxxer”, that is an industry narrative that generates fear, distraction and sells more products. The only labels we should be worried about is state control vs. parental control. These parents could have been any one of us. They trusted but were harmed and then betrayed by a corrupt, unaccountable, industry-captured medical system. They are mama and papa bears who are fighting for their own children, your children and society as a whole. Wake up. Fight back. Join your local efforts in defending medical freedom, body autonomy and the right to decline pharmaceutical products before it is too late. And if you are the praying type, it’s time to pray hard.