by Louise Kuo Habakus
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It’s one thing to recommend vaccination. It’s entirely another thing to sacrifice who we are — our fundamental rights, values, beliefs — on the altar of mandatory vaccination. If increasing numbers of parents are concerned about vaccine safety, then the appropriate response is to address the concerns. The appropriate response is not coercion via removal of parental rights and violation of health freedom.
California pediatrician Richard Pan was so successful in eliminating parental rights via SB277 in California that he’s coming to New Jersey. Well, not him exactly, but his alter ego, CHOP pediatrician Jennifer Chuang.
Who’s CHOP pediatrician Jennifer Chuang?
Chuang is director of the Adolescent Medicine inpatient services at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Here she is thanking industry spokesman, Paul Offit, via Twitter about “anti-vaccine activism.” We know the anti-vaccine label is a strategic distraction designed to usher in authoritarian policies and medical paternalism.
What’s she up to?
She’s running for NJ Assembly in District 7
Jennifer Chuang isn’t just a 40 year-old pediatrician who’s buds with Paul Offit. She lives in Moorestown, which is a 30 minute drive from Philadelphia and she’s running for political office. Chuang is a General Assembly primary candidate in New Jersey’s legislative district 7.
Wait a minute. Did we say District 7?
Chuang, Paul Offit, and… Herb Conaway?
District 7 is home base of long-time New Jersey Assemblyman Herb Conaway, who happens to be Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. He’s a top beneficiary of pharma campaign contributions and votes accordingly.
At his hearings, Conaway extends no courtesies to parents making significant efforts to express concerns and defend our rights. He posts controversial bills with the absolute minimum of public notice. He modified his own bill (to match a Senate bill that was moving) with no public notice. He gives parents 60 seconds to speak, using a timer and a gavel, bellowing when time is up. During parent testimony, he leaves the room for long periods of time without explanation or apology and holds private conversations, which are loud and disruptive. Read more here and here.
Conaway also demonstrates his pharma loyalties on the devastating opiate issue. He has refused to move bills that
- alert patients about addiction
- alert parents of children receiving opioids about addiction
- limit the amount of opioids a physician can prescribe
- expand or mandate physician participation in prescription drug monitoring programs
Check this post out: Dr. Conaway, the 2nd Worst Person in NJ Politics.
Model minority doing Pharma’s bidding
By invoking her Taiwanese heritage in her candidacy remarks, Jennifer Chuang placed her race in issue. I’m Taiwanese, too, on both sides of my family. My remarks are offered as thought provoking commentary for conscious engagement. Chuang herself encourages open dialogue about our nation’s racially and ethnically charged issues: “If we don’t talk about it, then there’s no problem and nothing to talk about.” The personal is political, after all.
Chuang’s candidacy for NJ Assembly follows the Richard Pan model (cue California’s SB277, which we’ve been writing about). And let’s not forget state senator, anesthesiologist Ervin Yen, who was enlisted to track the same blueprint targeting parental rights and health freedom in Oklahoma with SB83.
All three are children of Chinese immigrants from Taiwan. Like me. I know their story well. Study hard. Get into an Ivy League school. Make money so you can take care of your parents. It’s tied into the deeply ingrained Confucian ethic of filial piety:
[F]ilial piety is a virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders, and ancestors… The term can also be applied to general obedience… In more general terms, filial piety means… to engage in good conduct not just towards parents but also outside the home so as to bring a good name to one’s parents and ancestors; to perform the duties of one’s job well so as to obtain the material means to support parents as well as carry out sacrifices to the ancestors; not be rebellious; show love, respect and support; display courtesy…”
You see where this is going. In the wrong hands, these qualities are tailor made to be abused. I’m not a casual observer here. It is inordinately frustrating to watch my Chinese sisters and brothers dutifully following the rules and scooping up the “atta boy” prizes while failing to see how they are playing the patsy in a game they don’t understand.
The problem is that they should know enough to be wary. Anyone who survived World War II learned about authoritarianism and its creep. Westerners focus on Nazi totalitarianism but the Chinese also endured epic brutality in the Pacific theater. A quick history lesson about Taiwan tells the tale. My parents were born into Japanese occupation followed by Chinese martial law. The stories they share are grim. General Chiang Kai-shek was not a good dude.
Chuang understands this. She writes about the political oppression of that time. She criticizes one totalitarian regime and yet can’t see that she is being employed to impose medical tyranny on her constituents. It’s already bad enough, this subordinate and unquestioned following of externally-imposed rules, without considering another sobering truth.
Do we really think these Chinese doctors are coming forward in a stunning display of proactive public health advocacy? No! Pharma is deliberately hand picking them to do their shameless racist bidding.
How many naive, obedient, unassuming, aw shucks, model minority Asian pediatricians will they scare up to manipulate us through stereotype and prejudice?
It’s particularly unfortunate because Pharma is taking advantage of our society’s paralyzing political correctness that makes it difficult to call this out without being accused of racism. In fact, I’ve already been called an Asian bigot by people so eager to utter the epithet that they don’t take the time first to understand (or look the word up in the dictionary).
It’s the same authoritarian laws. It’s the same party line. It’s the same claims to care more about children while cutting parents out of the conversation. And it’s racism, too.
They’re coming after our religious exemption
The writing is on the wall, from California. Plus, we already have mandatory vaccination in New Jersey and over 98% of children are in full compliance. First, here are some of her quotes:
First, Chuang’s February 3 letter to the Moorestown Sun, in which she expresses interest in running for office.
All youth are vulnerable and need a voice in the government to defend their young fabulous lives. In addition to my dedication to serving these youth, I have the background to understand the medical research, practice evidence based medicine, and deliver high quality care in a value based manner.
In her “Chuang for Assembly” speech on April 4, she writes movingly about such things as teaching the art of medicine; bemoaning the politics of declining NIH research funding; wanting children who are not just good test takers but also generous and compassionate; relying upon herd immunity when her daughter’s neuroblastoma treatments prevented her from getting certain vaccines; and only wanting the best for our children.
Her local Moorestown Patch reported on April 5:
[Chuang] can definitively say that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.
“And when I saw that bills have been increasingly introduced to the NJ State legislature regarding having vaccines become more and more voluntary in nature, I was no longer able to rest,” Chuang said… Vaccinations are the main reason why I, as a pediatrician, felt that it was essential to enter this NJ State Assembly race at this particular time.”
She also delivered this statement (advance to 2:35):
She clearly states that, as a faithful member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, she thinks it’s really important for children to be vaccinated. What she does not make clear, however, is the lengths to which she and her aligned special interests are going to make this happen. As we shared, recent legislative history in California tells the story.
What is she talking about?
New Jersey parents have been going to school on the vaccine issue for nearly two decades, thanks to the dedicated advocacy of many parents. She’s not going to be able to pull the wool over our eyes so easily.
THE ART OF MEDICINE AND PARENTING
Chuang writes about the things that I see and feel but her actions do not match her words.
Medicine is and has always been an art — so why is she advancing medical orthodoxy?
I, too, am worried about the politics of research funding — scratch beneath the surface and see what’s really going on and who’s pulling the marionette strings.
Yes, there’s way too much of an emphasis on obedience and test taking — we have to model this very critical ability to think for ourselves and not obediently pander to authority.
The “immunocompromised can’t vaccinate” line is deceiving and incomplete. Will Chuang tell the truth that the vast majority of immunocompromised children can be vaccinated?
Who does not want the best for our children? What happens if, as a result of the deep love for our children and the product of our own independent critical thinking, we wish an alternative medical treatment for our child? Who gets to decide?
CHOICE FOR ABORTIONS BUT NOT VACCINES?
Chuang calls for publicly supporting women and our health care providers when it comes to abortion access. Women have fought hard for bodily autonomy and personal sovereignty, passionately calling for the right to assert dominion over the birth and reproductive choices that impact our bodies and our lives.
How does Chuang do an about face and say, choice for us but not for our children?
This societal carve out for vaccination cannot stand. UNESCO’s Universal Declaration for Bioethics and Human Rights is clear that prior, free and informed consent for all medical interventions is the international human rights standard around the world. Period. Nowhere does it say, “except for vaccines.”
CARE ABOUT CHILDREN? SUPPORT PARENTS!
Over the millennia, mothers have ensured the survival of our species under their watchful and loving care. There is no one that cares more about a child than her mom and dad. If you want to support children, support parents. Engage parents in a respectful and earnest discussion and obtain their input regarding the issues that affect their children’s well-being and welfare.
I’ve learned to be deeply suspicious of politicians who claim to represent the “young fabulous lives” of our youth in a conversation that leaves out parents.
MY REPRESENTATIVES ARE SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT ME
I’m also very concerned about legislators that run on a platform with a medical agenda that has the fingerprints of pharma and a professional trade association all over it. We don’t need yet another source of confounding and undue influence for powerful special interests.
Doctors will disagree. Doctors make mistakes. Doctors are very slow to integrate science into clinical practice. I have no interest in having my government legislate and mandate consensus medicine. We live in a democracy and elections are supposed to be about the will of The People. I am voting for candidates to represent me. I have no interest in voting for someone whose higher authority answers to someone else.
“NO LINK BETWEEN VACCINES AND AUTISM”
Don’t get us started. New Jersey is the autism capital of the United States. We’ve been dealing with skyrocketing autism and no answers for decades now. A stunning 2010 EPA study identified 1988-1989 as the changepoint year, after which there was an increase in cumulative incidence.
Stop telling us what you know doesn’t cause it until you can tell us what does.
Here’s what we do know. Autism is a behavioral diagnosis not a medical diagnosis. This label does everyone a grave disservice by intentionally obfuscating very important questions about causes (and therefore cures). It is not going to be possible to evaluate a causal relationship between vaccines and autism until our government prioritizes independent research to identify the medical conditions associated with autism. When we finally decide to take autism seriously, we will finally stop applying a meaningless behavioral label to intensely medically sick children.
“VACCINATION BILLS ARE BECOMING MORE VOLUNTARY”
Again, what is she talking about? What bills are these? I can’t think of a single vaccination bill that has been passed in New Jersey that made vaccination more voluntary. This kind of careless statement doesn’t bode well for voters seeking candidates with attention to detail and trustworthiness.
Check your party affiliation now for the primary
A primary election is one that narrows the field of candidates prior to a general election. It’s the process by which a party nominates its candidates.
To vote for or against someone running in a certain legislative district, you need to be a registered voter in that district.
To vote for or against a Democrat, you need to be registered as a Democrat at least 55 days prior to the primary election or by April 11. This means you need to read these instructions; fill out this form; and file it with your county’s Commissioner of Registration or Municipal Clerk.
Are the institutions of democracy working?
What the heck is wrong with democratic governance? Our political system is seemingly unable to break free from a divisive partisan morass to address gravely serious challenges. Parents want answers about the pediatric health crisis. Over half of US children are chronically sick and neurologically impaired. As we grapple with complex, multifactorial medical and behavioral disorders and work to find viable options and solutions for coping and curing, we’re increasingly told to back off, grow up, and grow up.
A democratic society is supposed to be a system of checks and balances, with the separation of political power among a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.
- Citizens have a responsibility to vote and make clear the will of the people.
- Legislators are representatives who should represent us and legislate (make laws).
- Our chief executive is meant to execute these laws.
- And the judiciary, as keeper of the legal system, is expected to address the meaning of laws and their application, especially as regards the intent of the Constitution.
These formal institutions of democracy play out against a backdrop co-created with powerful players, including corporations, the media, and religious institutions. But what happens when the system doesn’t work as intended?
- Barely over half of eligible citizens vote.
- Although “our liberty depends on freedom of the press” (Thomas Jefferson), we do not have a free press (#41 on the World Press Freedom index).
- Politicians bicker and stonewall, mired in partisanship and political animosity.
- The pharmaceutical industry spends billions on lobbying, more than any other industry.
- Campaign finance reform did not impact state races allowing pharma to bypass contribution limits and write six figure “soft money” checks to party leaders: “a prescription for influence.”
- Pharma is disproportionately and inappropriately connected to ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the vehicle through which corporations hand their wish lists to state legislators.
- Regulatory agencies have succumbed to bureaucratic capture.
- Not to mention that there is essentially no legal recourse after Congress granted pharma immunity following the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
Health freedom is on the line
Benjamin Rush was George Washington’s personal physician; America’s first Surgeon General; member of the Continental Congress; signatory of the Declaration of Independence; and the only medical doctor to assist in the drafting of the Constitution of the United States. He spoke up for health freedom:
“The Constitution of this Republic should make special provision for medical freedom. To restrict the art of healing to one class will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic…Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution; the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship and force people, who wish doctors and treatments of their own choice, to submit to only what the dictating outfit offers. The Constitution of the Republic should make a Special provision for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.”
Democracy requires a vigilant and educated populace. Freedom must be constantly defended. Do not allow vaccines to be mandated without exemptions. Whether you vaccinate, the principle that is at risk is health freedom.