Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children could face lawsuits, increased taxes and even jail time if some commentators get their way.
The Disneyland measles outbreak is prompting some pundits to demand that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids be punished.
“Parents who do not vaccinate their children should go to jail,” science blogger Alex Berezow wrote in a Jan. 28 column for USA Today. He is a member of the newspaper’s board of contributors. “Anti-vaccine parents are turning their children into little walking time bombs. They ought to be charged for endangering their children and others.”
Berezow is merely one of a growing number of journalists, pundits and academics who are demanding that anti-vaccination parents be stripped of their rights. Many of these commentators are going out of their way to demonize such parents.
It is not enough to try and reach out to parents and educate them, he said.
“Parents who do not vaccinate their children should go to jail,” he wrote. “Anti-vaxxers often claim the right not to put ‘poison’ in their children’s bodies. That is ludicrous. A mountain of data has demonstrated that vaccines are safe and effective. Insisting otherwise is akin to believing that the moon landing was faked. …
“It is time to end this insanity. Though jail sounds drastic, it could be the only way to send a strong message about the deadly consequences of failing to vaccinate children”
Tax on Non-Vaccinating Families Proposed
Jail time is not the only penalty that vaccination proponents are proposing for parents who refuse to get their children inoculated. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, wants non-vaccinating families to pay a no-fault tax or fee, Los Angeles Times writer Michael Hiltzik noted.
Reiss and two other academics, Robert L. Schwartz of the University of New Mexico’s School of Law and Charlotte A. Moser of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, even wrote an academic paper outlining their proposals. The tax would apparently be based on the estimated cost of epidemics to society.
“It makes a case for requiring those who do not vaccinate to cover the costs of outbreak caused by their choice,” they wrote of the article, titled Funding the Costs of Disease Outbreaks Caused by Non Vaccination. “Such recouping is justified because the choice not to vaccinate can easily be seen as negligent.”
Vaccination Opponents Demonized
Hiltzik seems to disagree with Reiss’s proposal but he does think that the rights of non-vaccinating families should be severely curtailed. Among other things, he wants unvaccinated children thrown out of public schools and doctors who don’t vaccinate stripped of their medical licenses.
“Vaccines should be restored to their status as mandatory; the law should bar exemptions except for medical complications and genuine religious credos,” he wrote. “It should be made clear that schools have the legal right to refuse enrollment to children left unvaccinated by parental choice. The Medical Board of California should advise its licensees, now, that purveying unorthodox immunization advice could be judged to be a departure from the standard of care, and place their license in jeopardy.”
In another column, Hiltzik described anti-vaccination parents as “rich, educated and stupid.” Hiltzik wants to see a California state law repealed that gives parents the right to refuse to vaccinate.
Arthur Caplan, a prominent bioethicist at New York University, told Forbes contributor Dan Diamond it is “neglect to expose your child to vaccine-preventable disease.”
“It is selfish to expose my kids to disease,” Caplan wrote.
Authorities can use neglect as pretext to take children from parents and place them in foster care.
“If you choose not to vaccinate your child, and your child infects mine and harms or kills them, I believe you ought be held liable for your choice just as we would do for a drunk driver,” Caplan said.
For example, a family could lose its home and savings in a wrongful death lawsuit if a measles outbreak that killed a child was traced to its children.
“The scientific and legal foundation for bringing charges against non-vaccinators for the harm they do exists,” a 2013 academic paper co-authored by Caplan states.
Do you believe parents who don’t vaccinate their children will, at some point in the future, be jailed or face fines? Share your thoughts in the section below: