A new bipartisan bill proposed in the state legislature at the height of California’s ongoing measles outbreak that would end vaccine exemptions for personal belief was hailed by public health advocates and by the media. The pro-vaccine bill has found a powerful opponent, however: the chiropractors’ lobby. The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Chiropractic Association spent the week in Sacramento urging lawmakers to vote against “forced medical procedures.”
The California Chiropractic Association is also coordinating a grassroots campaign against the bill through its website. Speaking out on behalf of “parental choice” and “personal belief,” the website urges supporters to build “a positive relationship with your local representative,” write to state legislators, and avoid “Personal attacks on social media, unflattering photo shopping, confrontational conversations, threats, tying up phone lines and faxes etc.
A sample letter provided by the association for members to send to state legislators reads, in part: “This proposed legislation ignores and eliminates the fundamental American value of choice as well as a doctor’s ethical obligation to provide their patients informed consent….The purpose of my letter is not to allege that all vaccines are bad or should not be used but to ask for careful consideration of the fact that the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is not absolute.”
Brian Stenzler, president of the association, told the Times: “Chiropractors themselves choose to become chiropractors because they like to live a more natural lifestyle, free of drugs and surgery when possible.” He added that the focus of the association’s message would be “informed consent” and “freedom of choice,” not “conspiracy theories and all these other things” such as autism, which drives public concern but whose link to vaccination has been disproven by medical research.