The other day, I expressed my disappointment at how Samantha Bee of The Daily Show got the politics of antivaccinationism wrong in a segment that was funny, but promoted the stereotype of antivaccine activists as being mainly crunchy lefties. In that post, I mentioned how the Texas Republican Party had a plank in its platform for “vaccine choice” in 2012. Now, thanks to PZ Myers, I notice that the plank appears to be there still for 2014:
All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves, or their minor children, without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.
As I pointed out in 2012, this is, of course, very silly and built on ignorance. Adults already have the legal right without penalty to choose which vaccines they take and always have. Parents also more or less already have the legal right to refuse vaccinations for their children in the 48 states that allow religious exemptions. In nineteen states, philosophical exemptions are allowed, and in the states in which philosophical exemptions are not allowed parents frequently claim religious exemptions, whether valid or not. Moreover, Texas itself already allows both religious and philosophical exemptions to school vaccine mandates; so the issue is a moot point there.
Of course, supporters of such a plank will simply say that they’re for “vaccine choice,” whatever that means. Actually, antivaccinationists know what it means. It means the “freedom” to endanger others without the state putting up roadblocks. It means the freedom to participate in public schools without even the slightest obligation on the part of the parents to protect their children or to contribute to herd immunity protecting other children using an incredibly safe and effective modality that saves lives.
It’s not surprising that the Republican Party of Texas didn’t take that plank out of its party platform. As I’ve pointed out before, extreme libertarianism and antivaccinationism go together like rats and bubonic plague.