VACCINE MYTH: It is ethical for government to sacrifice the few for the many

The following section, “VACCINE CULTURE WAR MYTH NUMBER 5,” is excerpted from “The Vaccine Culture War in America: Are You Ready?” by Barbara Loe Fisher. Please read the entire article here:

http://www.nvic.org/NVIC-Vaccine-News/March-2015/the-vaccine-culture-war-in-america-are-you-ready.aspx

VACCINE CULTURE WAR MYTH NUMBER 5: 

It is ethical for government to sacrifice the few for the many.

jeremy-bentham.jpgBased on hedonism 184 and a mathematical equation, this philosophy is called utilitarianism 185186and comes from the word “utility.” 187 The utilitarian rationale was created as a guide for legislators making public policy by an 18thcentury British social reformer Jeremy Bentham, 188189 whose mummified head is being preserved by the University College London, where a wax version is on public display. 190 In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court used Bentham’s utilitarian rationale to rule in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts that state legislatures had the power to enact mandatory smallpox vaccination laws. 191

American Eugenicists, U.S. Supreme Court Embraces Utilitarianism

American eugenicists and social reformers embraced utilitarianism in the early 20th century. 192193 They argued that government has the legal right to discriminate against a minority of citizens judged to be genetically defective or a threat to the health and welfare of society.  In 1923, U.S. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes 194 gave the green light to the state of Virginia to forcibly sterilize a young woman, Carrie Buck, because doctors judged her to be mentally retarded just like her daughter and mother.

compulsory-vaccination.jpg

Coldly, Holmes proclaimed: “three generations of imbeciles are enough” and said “The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.” 195

It turns out Carrie Buck was not mentally retarded and neither was her daughter or mother. 196

Utilitarianism Pseudo-Ethic In Its Most Extreme Form

Doctors and public health officials in the Third Reich implemented utilitarianism in its most extreme form to justify conducting horrific scientific experiments on captive people. 197198 The Nuremberg Tribunal justices presiding over The Doctors Trial after World War II declared utilitarianism to be a pseudo ethic. They issued the Nuremberg Code outlining the informed consent principle, 199200 which has guided research on humans and the ethical practice of medicine ever since. 201202203

nuremberg-code.jpgForced Vaccination Laws Sacrifice the Genetically Vulnerable

The Institute of Medicine has confirmed that some individuals have known and unknown genetic risk factors that make them more susceptible to vaccine injury and death. 204 This means forced vaccination laws that fail to include flexible medical and non-medical exemptions become a utilitarian, de facto selection of the genetically vulnerable for sacrifice. 205

Is America really going to walk down that road? Are we going to punish citizens for the genes they were born with in the name of the public health?

Are we going to slide down the slippery slope of utilitarianism and ignore the profound ethical and legal questions that remain: Who gets to decide what protects the public health? Which individuals should be sacrificed? And how many is too many?

REFERENCES:  

184 Moore A. HedonismThe Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2013.
185 Merriam Webster Dictionary. Definition of utilitarianismphilosophy: the belief that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people.
186  Kay CD. Notes on UtilitarianismWofford College Department of Philosophy 1997.
187 Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Definition of utilitythe quality or state of being useful; fitness for some purpose or worth to some end.
188 Utilitarian Philosopy.com. Utilitarian Philosophy.
189 Crimmins JE. Bentham on Religion: Atheism and the Secular Society. Journal of the History of Ideas 1986; 47(1). University of Pennsylvania Press.
190 University College London. Bentham’s Head.
191 Jacobsen v. Massachusetts. 197 U.S. 11(1905). LSU Law Center.
192 Black E. The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics. History News Network Nov. 24, 2003. (George Mason University).
193 Tolerance.org. American Gothic: Race and EthnicityTeaching Tolerance Magazine 2003; 23.
194 Foner E, Garraty JA, Editors. Oliver Wendall Homes, JrThe Readers Companion to American History 1991.
195 U.S. Supreme Court. Buck v Bell (No. 292). Decided May 2, 1927. Cornell University Law School.
196 Lombardo P. Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, The Supreme Court and Buck v. BellThe Johns Hopkins University Press 2008.
197 Seidelman WE. Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science.British Medical Journal 1996; 313: 1463-1467.
198 Schultz JJ. The Doctor’s Dilemma: The Utilitarian Medical Ethics of Nazi Physician Karl BrandtUniversity of Toronto Journal 2013; 90(4): 176.
199 Annas GJ, Grodin MA. The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg CodeOxford University Press 1992.
200 Grodin MA, Annas GJ. Legacies of Nuremberg – Medical Ethics and Human Rights. JAMA 1996; 276(20): 1682-1683.
201 Cohen J, Ezer T. Human rights in patient care: A theoretic and practical framework. Health and Human Rights Journal 2013.
203 Nir E. Informed ConsentStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Sept. 21, 2011.
204 See References #146-155.
205 Fisher BL. Vaccination: Your Right to Know and Freedom to Choose. Keynote speech at U.S. Health Freedom Congress, Hamline University, Minneappolis/St. Paul Sept. 27, 2014.
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