Bioethicists have joined together to offer a reward of $11,000 to anyone who can prove the child Michele Bachmann mentioned repeatedly on television this week actually became “mentally retarded” from the HPV vaccine. One of the scientists is from Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reports:
Steven Miles, a U of M bioethics professor, said that he’ll give $1,000 if the medical records of the woman from Bachmann’s story are released and can be viewed by a medical professional.
His offer was upped by his former boss from the University of Minnesota, Art Caplan, who is now director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. Caplan said he would match Miles’ challenge and offered $10,000 for proof of the HPV vaccine victim.
“These types of messages in this climate have the capacity to do enormous public health harm,” Miles said of why he made the offer. “The woman, assuming she exists, put this claim into the public domain and it’s an extremely serious claim and it deserves to be analyzed.”
After attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry over his vaccination executive order at Monday’s debate — which scored Bachmann points from debate pundits — the Minnesota Republican said a woman had told her that the HPV vaccine had caused her daughter’s mental retardation. Bachmann repeated the story on NBC’s “Today” the next morning.
“There’s a woman that came up crying to me tonight after the debate,” Bachman told Fox News. “She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She said her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.”
The comment has sparked widespread criticism from the medical community, which has said Bachmann was stoking unfounded fears similar to claims made about vaccines and Autism. The Centers for Disease Control website makes no mention of mental illness in its “adverse events” report on the HPV vaccine.
Bachmann somewhat walked back her comments Tuesday on Sean Hannity’s radio show, where she said she had “no idea” if the HPV vaccine was linked to mental illness. “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician,” Bachmann said. “All I was doing is reporting what this woman told me last night at the debate.”
Last night, Anderson Cooper called Bachmann’s claims “incredibly irresponsible,” and said, “Bachmann is spreading an all-out falsehood here.”
Crooks And Liars offers this sobering thought:
Bachmann has an imaginary friend. The Iowa Straw Poll winner has a made-up crying mother straw man. I think Bachmann actually meant to say “autism” and instead said mental retardation (not the same thing). There’s been an autism-is-caused-by-vaccines myth for a decade. The “doctor” who did that debunked and bogus study has since lost his license. While last year 10 infants in California have since lost their lives in a whooping cough epidemic as a result of his “work.”
Words are powerful, and when irresponsible politicians, especially ones like Michele Bachmann — who has time and time again positioned herself as a professional mother — lie, or merely repeat something they heard that turnd out to be false, they literally end up contributing to the deaths of children.
Via The New York Times in June:
“We had our five biological children that God gave to us, and then he called us to take foster children into our home,” Mrs. Bachmann told a Christian audience in 2006. “We thought we were going to take unwed mothers in,” she continued, adding, “We took 23 foster children into our home, and raised them, and launched them off into the world.”
The Bachmanns were licensed by the state from 1992 to 2000 to handle up to three foster children at a time; the last child arrived in 1998. They began by offering short-term care for girls with eating disorders who were treated through a program at the University of Minnesota, said George Hendrickson, the chief executive of PATH Minnesota, the private agency that handled the placements.
Yes, professional mom Michele Bachmann, whose husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann is a medical professional, thinks it’s OK to blindly repeat stories some unknown woman supposedly told her, and scare parents all across America. Excellent example of Christian love at work.
Gail Collins in yesterday’s New York Times wrote,
About the vaccine. It’s been proved to be effective in reducing cervical cancer in sexually active women, and it apparently works best if you begin the shots around age 12. The intense opposition from the social right appears to be based on the idea that once the kids had the shots they’d be more likely to have sex. Or, in the convoluted and creepy words of Rick Santorum: “Unless Texas has a very progressive way of communicating diseases in their school by way of their curriculum, then there is no government purpose served for having little girls inoculated at the force and compulsion of the government.”
Then, Bachmann tossed in another argument: vaccines are dangerous. “I had a mother last night come up to me … she told me her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter,” Bachmann told one TV interviewer after another.
O.K., hold the phone.
Let’s presume that Bachmann is being accurate, and that the woman in question was not someone she heard about from a friend of a friend’s cousin in Xenia, Ohio. What would you expect a candidate for president of the United States to do after such an encounter? Take a name? Investigate the case? Would a contender for the White House — or even the Zoning Board of Appeals — just blurt out something they heard from a stranger that could discourage parents from accepting vaccinations that could save their children’s lives?
The Bachmann campaign did not respond to my questions about who the woman was or what the candidate did to check out the information. So I guess maybe, yeah.
Joe.My.God. says, “We’re guessing this prize will go unclaimed.”
I guess maybe, yeah.
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