February 18, 2015
Salem, Oregon — My name is Dr. Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. I am an award-winning author and researcher and I have been writing books, magazine and newspaper articles about issues related to childhood health for over ten years.
I grew up in a house full of scientists: My uncle, Sheldon Glashow, Ph.D., won a Nobel Prize in Physics and my mother, Lynn Margulis, Ph.D., was one of the most important evolutionary biologists of the 20th century.
I suspect I am also one of the most vaccinated people sitting in this room. I was fully vaccinated as a kid, I worked on a child survival campaign in West Africa in the 1990s for which I received an additional round of vaccines. Most recently, I was awarded a Fulbright grant by the United States government in 2006 – 2007 to teach and do research in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, necessitating even more vaccines.
I am pro-vaccine. I think vaccines are one of the most important medical inventions of our time. Yet I am opposed to any attempt to take away philosophical and religious exemptions from Oregon parents who decide not to vaccinate their children.
For me this is not a debate about the merits of vaccines, the harm vaccines may cause in a subset of vulnerable children, or whether or not the current CDC schedule is really in the best interests of our children’s health. It is a debate about freedom and parental choice.
The only two versions of the MMR vaccine available today contain human diploid lung fibroblasts, which are cells that were grown from aborted fetal tissue. Religious parents who do not want to inject their children with aborted fetal tissue cells should have the right to forgo these vaccines.
Three of the polio vaccines currently on the market contain cells grown from African green monkeys. Parents opposed to animal cruelty, those who are vegan, and those who do not want the cells of other animals injected into their children should have the right to forgo these vaccines.
Thousands of scientific studies have shown that a human baby’s immune system benefits tremendously from human breast milk. One study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that infants who were breastfed had a 20 percent lower risk of dying before they turned one than babies who were not.
Other studies have shown that breastfeeding—more than access to clean water and vaccines—helps children survive and thrive.
Not breastfeeding is a public health emergency.
So given the overwhelming evidence of the positive benefits of breastfeeding and the unequivocal benefit to a child’s immune system, should we legislate that American women breastfeed their babies? And exclude any children from public school if they have not been breastfed?
As farfetched as that may sound, lawmakers in the United Arab Emirates threaten women who refuse to breastfeed with jail time.
We all care about the same thing: how best to keep our children safe and healthy.
We should absolutely be educating parents about vaccines and vaccine safety.
But Oregon is not the United Arab Emirates. There is no place for forced vaccination in a free society. Oregon parents must have the right to choose to do what is best for their children.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.
Contact information for Senate Committee on Health Care. Please write and call them and tell them that you oppose this misguided attempt to take away freedom of choice in health care decisions for our children:
Laurie Monnes Anderson, Chair. Email: Sen.LaurieMonnesAnderson@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1725
Jeff Kruse, Vice Chair. Email: Sen.JeffKruse@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1701
Tim Knopp. Email: Sen.TimKnopp@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1727
Chip Shields. Email: Sen.ChipShields@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1722
Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, sponsor SB-442. Email: Sen.ElizabethSteinerHayward@state.or.us Phone: 503-986-1717
Senator Alan Bates has publicly expressed his support of this bill. If you live in Southern Oregon, please let Senator Alan Bates know that his constituents are not in favor of limiting parental freedom. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email and call his office: 503-986-1703.