sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 15, 2011

Mommy Wars Hit Presidential Primaries

Filed under: parenting, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:16 pm

In 2007, when I was expecting my 1st baby, I signed up with a childbirth prep class offered through my HMO, Kaiser.  It was taught on Kaiser premises by a retired midwife.  We lingered on after the class was over, waiting, I think, for my parents who were meeting us for lunch.  The midwife came up to me and handed some sort of a green parenting magazine, saying that there is a very important essay on vaccinations in it.

As you know, I’m no sucker for green propaganda, but, hey, I’ll read anything.  And so I started reading.  The article that the midwife suggested urged me to think critically about vaccinations.  Well, I was trying to think critically.  I was reading it and thinking, “Whooping cough?  Mumps?  Measles?  My child needs these shots.”  But I was also thinking “What if it’s true, what if vaccines cause autism?”

They do not.

I’ve met many first time parents who were similarly confused about the issue.  Here in the Bay Area, the hippie types generally avoid Western capitalist medicine, preferring instead everything “natural”.  Pretty much everyone else had some sort of flirtation with “natural” parenting.  In my social group, first time parents are practically paralyzed by the enormous responsibility that comes with parenting.  Few of us have experiences with babies, and we realize that we need advice.  Unfortunately, we often get in in wrong places.

From what I remember, that green parenting magazine advocated stretching out the shot schedule instead of dodging injections altogether.  Many moms I know followed that “boutique” schedule (yes, it’s known as a “boutique” schedule, and moms always blush when they say it.) Me and DH thought about an alternative schedule, and thought about it, and thought about it, and found only one vaccination we would consider delaying, a Hep B shot, but our pediatrician convinced me that even that was a bad idea.

When I chose the conventional injection schedule, I only considered what’s good for my kids.  Yet my children’s well-being is not the reason why certain vaccines are (and should be) mandatory.  If my healthy child comes down with measles, she’ll probably be all right — after a trip to an emergency room, which I would like to avoid at all costs.  But children too young to be vaccinated and children who have immune disorders or organ transplants and can not be administered injections are in real danger.  The entire healthy population has to be vaccinated to develop herd immunity, meaning viruses will not transmit from one individual to another because significant number of individuals are immune.

While I don’t think that HPV vaccination should be mandatory, I just don’t see Governor Perry’s executive order mandating Gardisil vaccines for girls as a horrible totalitarian Obama-style measure.  Perry was wrong about Gardisil specifically, but he got the big picture right — some vaccines should be mandatory to protect the vulnerable.

When Gardisil kept coming up as a primary issue, it seemed so mommy wars, I figured it doesn’t have the legs.  And it doesn’t.  When Michele Bachmann repeated, well, a gossip, that HPV vaccination causes mental retardation, I thought that it wouldn’t sink Perry.  As it happens, it sunk Bachmann.  The blogosphere went abuzz, and Rush doesn’t have her back on that one.

For discussion of the safety of Gardisil, see very excellent post by An American Housewife in London.

UPDATE: DH forwards this story on two profs wanting to pull a Breitbart on Bachmann:

Two bioethics professors have offered to pay more than $10,000 for medical records that prove the anecdote Bachmann told after Monday night’s Republican presidential debate is true, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports[.]

I think I know where this story is going to go and why keep it in the news.  It’s going to be a proof that the right is anti-science, which is patiently untrue.  I knows gazzilions of parents who don’t vaccinate or delay vaccinations, and they are all zealous lefties.  This is not right versus left, this is mommy wars.



  1. Bachmann is simply arranging deck chairs on the Titanic (HMS Bachmann Campaign).

    Comment by Harrison — September 15, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  2. A case of mountains and molehills.

    Comment by Conservatives on Fire — September 15, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  3. The right is anti-science. Another of the “big lies” told about the right. If anything, the left, with its emotion-driven, anti-logic anti-west crusade is anti-science.

    Comment by Infidel de Manahatta — September 16, 2011 @ 9:31 am

    • For the Left it’s science via consensus.

      Comment by Harrison — September 16, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  4. All true. And the thing about MB, vaccines were never her issue before Perry entered the race. She knows we need them.

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 16, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  5. Not sure what Bachmann was thinking on this one.

    I’ve noticed more “anti-vaccine” sentiment in the homeschoolers with which I’m now mixing company. We haven’t talked politics, but I sure don’t get the feeling they are conservative, or even politically-minded at all.

    One mom told me that she didn’t vaccinate for religious reasons, but doesn’t like to talk about it. (I’m guessing she’s tired of hearing everyone try to talk sense into her). She’s Christian of unknown denomination. I’m puzzled.
    What denomination does not allow immunization?

    Interesting post, gal, thanks.


    Comment by nooneofanyimport — September 21, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    • I think Bachmann was politicking. She’s not on record being against vaccines, and, I imagine, being a foster parent, she herself had to immunize, and she had to be informed about the issues.
      I heard that some Christians and homeschoolers are against vaccinations and also into homebirth, mandatory breastfeeding toddlers and other forms of extreme attachment. All I know is that when we have outbreaks of preventable diseases it’s always in urban deep blue areas. In part it’s because that’s where sanctuary cities are (I know, I’m such a racist), but in part it’s the hippies.
      I think the Amish don’t immunize for religious reasons. Everyone else is probably lying.
      One of DD’s play buddies is now sick with chicken pox. She couldn’t get immunized b/c of allergies, and she has an infant brother.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 21, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  6. […] add that “natural” childbirth types bring along various other sketchy individuals, like anti-vaxers and militant breastfeeding […]

    Pingback by The Feminist War on Obstetrics « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — March 19, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

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