The Assault on Freedom of Conscience


As a new reader of Mothering in 1977, I was especially interested in the letters about circumcision and vaccinations. In fact, one of the first things I did when I bought the magazine in 1980 was to arrange the letters under specific headings so that readers could more easily follow the ongoing dialogues.

As the editor of Mothering, I see circumcision and vaccination as two of many issues that fall under the broader umbrella of informed consent or freedom of conscience. Sometimes people will characterize the magazine as pro-homebirth or anti-vaccine because of our frequent coverage of these issues. In fact, we are pro-informed consent; we publish both sides of the story so that parents can be aware of all angles before they make a decision. It was in this spirit of informed consent that I first became interested in covering HIV and AIDS. In 1996, I received a letter from Michael Ellner of Health, Education, AIDS Liaison (HEAL) in New York City. Michael asked Mothering to look into the new recommendation that all mothers and newborns be tested for HIV. In the Summer 1997 issue of Mothering, I reported that universal HIV testing, like universal prenatal testing, is controversial because AIDS is rare among women of childbearing age and among newborns.

Not only is universal HIV testing for pregnant women and newborns controversial, but also are the medications prescribed for HIV and the recommendations regarding breastfeeding. Up until 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) left the infant-feeding choice up to the HIV mother herself. By 1998, the recommendation had changed and WHO recommended safe alternatives to breastfeeding. As a retired La Leche League Leader, I was dismayed that breastfeeding was contraindicated in HIV because up until then, only one disease-untreated, active tuberculosis-contraindicated breastfeeding.

In September 1998, Mothering published the article, "AZT Roulette: The Impossible Choices Facing HIV-Positive Mothers." It is about the dilemma of women who test positive for HIV-but have no risk factors or symptoms of illness-and are coerced into taking drugs (such as AZT) that can cause premature birth, birth defects, cancer, and death. These women are accused of potentially risking the lives of their children when they question taking these drugs, and yet they are, in fact, actually risking the lives of their children when they do take them. One of the things that most concerned me in this article was the high rate of complications among babies whose mothers take AZT. In one study, for example, the rate of birth defects was 13 percent, nearly six times the normal rate. Another study was halted because of the high rate of premature births. If this weren’t bad enough, pregnancy is one of the conditions listed by the manufacturer of the HIV test that can result in a false positive for the virus.

One of our readers whose life was dramatically affected by HIV is Kathleen Tyson, whose story appears in our May/June 1999 issue. In September 1998, Kathleen’s midwife called to ask her to come in to talk about her prenatal tests. She and her husband were worried as they drove to the midwife’s office, but they never expected it to be the HIV test. Kathleen had tested positive. As a vegetarian who danced, practiced yoga, and ran 10 to 16 miles a week, Kathleen felt she was in the best shape of her life. She was in a long-term monogamous relationship and had no risk factors for AIDS. Still she wanted to do the right thing, so she began taking AZT. Six weeks into the regimen, however, she stopped because she felt sick every time she took the drug and was worried about its effect on her baby. She planned to birth at home and to breastfeed, but two weeks before her baby’s due date, she had an emergency cesarean because of a prolapsed cord. After she awoke from the anesthesia, she nursed her son Felix. But before the day was out she was ordered by her pediatrician to stop breastfeeding and served a summons to appear in court two days later. There she was court-ordered to cease breastfeeding her newborn baby and to give him AZT every six hours around the clock for six weeks. The bitter irony of Kathleen’s experience is that the WHO recommendation regarding HIV and breastfeeding changed again because research since 1999 has shown that exclusive breastfeeding is actually a protection against HIV. The choices facing mothers who question mandatory medication for HIV are not unlike those faced by parents who choose to give birth at home in a country where 99 percent of births take place in the hospital, or parents who decide not to circumcise their son, even though the majority of their peers are doing so. These choices are not unlike those made by parents who wonder if they can delay childhood vaccines, select some but not all of them, or forego them altogether.

These parents exercise their freedom of conscience-a right supported by US courts for more than 100 years. Freedom of conscience is protected under the doctrine of informed consent, which specifically protects the right to decline. For informed consent to be valid, a decision must not be coerced.

Parents’ freedom of conscience has been demonized of late. A new book, Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure by Paul A. Offit, MD (Columbia University Press, 2008), patronizes suffering parents of autistic children and dismisses them as part of a hysterical conspiracy of alarmists. The tragic death of John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s son was cruelly sensationalized by suggestions that perhaps the Scientologist couple hadn’t done enough to care for their son, who, in fact, had 24/7 supervision. On October 28, 2008, in its fifth episode of the season, the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit vilified Christine Maggiore, one of the mothers featured in our September 1998 article, in which a daughter and mother both die of AIDS.

On January 8, 2009, the television show Private Practice aired an episode about a child who brings measles into a medical clinic and the widespread panic that ensues. Parents who don’t vaccinate are called child abusers and portrayed as pariahs. Measles is depicted as a life-threatening disease instead of the mild illness that my friends and I all had as children. In the Private Practice episode, the child dies from measles, an occurrence that is so rare that, based on the current incidence levels (42 in 2007), a death from measles would happen once every 119 years. Even if the incidence of measles were to quadruple, we would not see a death for 30 years. The current death rate from measles is 1 in 5,000, yet it is portrayed in the show as though it happens frequently.

In this episode, a doctor forcibly vaccinates the sick child’s brother for measles as his mother stands by protesting helplessly. While the actors who play the doctors in the show are all ridiculously good-looking and remarkably fit, the non-vaccinators appear dowdy and dangerous. One wears no makeup, is slightly overweight, and occasionally hysterical. The other is a sometimes drug addict who forgets to vaccinate.

The incidence of measles cases has risen dramatically from 2007 to 2008 and is at its highest level in more than a decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63 of the 131 new cases of measles from January to July 2008 were among those unvaccinated. The majority of the cases (68), however, were among those vaccinated. Interestingly, according to the CDC, 89 percent of the 131 new measles cases were "imported from or associated with importations from other countries, particularly countries in Europe, where several outbreaks are ongoing." In the face of this evidence, why is it the conscientious objectors who are scapegoated? The growing propaganda that unvaccinated kids put vaccinated kids at risk is not supported by the evidence and just doesn’t make sense as long as the vaccines themselves are effective.

Now even parents who sleep with their babies are being portrayed as dangerous kooks. On January 25, 2009, our local paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican, reprinted on the front page an article from the Washington Post titled, "Infant Deaths Rekindle Bed-share Debate." The article reports on a study to be published in the February 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics, showing an increase in deaths attributed to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (ASSB) from 2.8 to 12.5 per 100,000 between 1984 and 2004.

While the Washington Post article suggests that this increase is due to more parents sleeping with their children in order to facilitate breasteeding, the research suggests otherwise. In the first place, black male infants in the study were disproportionately affected by accidental suffocation-and yet breastfeeding rates among African-American women are significantly lower than rates among other women. Secondly, the researchers themselves attribute the rise to several possible causes, one being the shift in classifying deaths that previously would have been attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In 1996, the CDC began to classify SIDS deaths under the larger category Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths (SUID), and added ASSB for the first time under this new category. According to the CDC, "CDC research has found that the decline in SIDS since 1999 can be explained by increasing SUID rates (e.g., deaths attributed to overlaying, suffocation, and wedging). This change in reporting or classification of SUID can be explained by changes in how investigations are conducted and how diagnoses of SUID are made. For example, more deaths may be attributed to accidental suffocation than to SIDS."

The Pediatrics research was based on epidemiological analysis of infant mortality data. Without a detailed death-scene investigation, an autopsy, and a review of the medical records, it is doubtful that infant deaths are correctly classified on death certificates. Even when there is an autopsy, it is impossible to tell the difference between a death from strangulation and a death from a physiological cause, such as a heart defect.

A dangerously vicious intolerance for parents’ freedom of conscience is growing and is breeding an atmosphere of distrust among families. It’s especially important now for parents to clearly differentiate between the personal and the political. If you exercise your freedom of conscience and make a decision that is held by only a small minority, be reassured by the knowledge that the Constitution of the United States was written specifically to protect minority opinions. If you have made a responsible and well-informed decision, you can dismiss the propaganda when an issue is demonized in the press, because its coverage may be influenced by political, that is, financial, motives. Parents are the only ones who will live with the consequences of their actions, so they must be the ones who make the final decisions. Anything else is tyranny.

This article originally appeared in Issue 152- January/February 2009 – of Mothering Magazine.

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  • invalid-0

    I beg of you to take a look at this film that is coming out. We should ALL start to inform ourselves of in questions of health. Instead we blindly accept.

    http://houseofnumbers.com

    Nick

  • invalid-0

    Peggy: You failed to mention the fate of HIV postive Christine Maggiore and her daughter – they both died of a ravaged immune system, thanks to AIDS. She chose to ignore the existence of a virus that certainly wasn’t doing likewise and that she decided to forgo monitoring and treatment for herself is a decision that no matter how seemingly foolish, is protected in our country. But to play Russian Roulette with the health and lives of your children based on zero professional medical education and experience is unconscionable. I suppose parents who believe Cobra snake venom is harmless should be hailed for their excellent parenting instincts after their child dies of a bite they left untreated?

    Honestly, your soapbox and causes would garner a bit of respect if you didn’t suggest that the good intentions of a parent, no matter how ignorant and dangerous justifies the means against overwhelming solid scientific evidence to the contrary. That just makes you look like a rabid wingnut who is nothing but an ideologue, despite all sense of reason. In fact, that would be true.

    • http://mikeandtoby.com/ invalid-0

      Good catch, Hanna. You have good depth of knowledge in the issue. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • invalid-0

    My sisters and I were raised in (and barely survived) a Christian Science household. Necessary medical attention came sometimes months later than necessary. I watched my Grandfather die an early and easily preventable death, my sisters and I had to suffer through everything from untreated migraines to untreated kidney and bladder infections. It was terrifying.
    I could care less about parent’s consciences when their consciences and religious beliefs injure and/or cripple their children. Some parents are lousy at protecting and caring for their children (and here I do not mean potential children but real, born and breathing ones) the parents aren’t the only ones who are forced to live with the consequences of denying their children medical care, the children (when they survive) are also.

  • http://momstinfoilhat.wordpress.com invalid-0

    Great to see you here, Peggy.

  • amanda-marcotte

    For yourself, I can’t quarrel with. But of course, the people who demand it are using their children as tokens to play with. They have all their vaccinations—they won’t be getting the measles. But while they’ll take advantage, they’ll put their children in danger and then hide behind emotional ploys to distract from the reality.

    Reality: There are no reputable studies linking vaccinations to autism. The one study people turned to has been determined to have been falsified at the behest of pro-disease activists. The measles is back, but of course the people getting it are innocent children, not their parents who have made their children victims of their baffling and pointless stance against modern medicine.

    And the parents of autistic children are being exploited, yes. But not by vaccination supporters. They are being hurt and misused by anti-vaccination activists who are willing to use other people’s vulnerable status to exploit them for this cause that still, to this day, makes no sense at all.

  • equalist

    What I’m seeing here is an all or nothing attitude on both sides of this argument, when it is far from such. Yes, there are parents who make well informed and researched decisions regarding their children’s health and are blocked by health care professionals who ignore their decisions and the rights of the parents to make decisions for their children’s lives. Yes there are parents who act (or choose not to act) out of superstitious or religious belief and fear in regards to their children’s health and insist on allowing their children to suffer needlessly without doing any real research on the particular treatments they oppose. What I think both sides are missing though are the responsible parents in the middle. The parents who before making medical decisions for their children insist on getting multiple opinions, researching their decision, and finding a doctor they are comfortable with. There are parents out there who do not blindly follow one opinion or the other, but create their own opinion, based on their own experiences, family history, and personal research on the subjects at hand. These are the parents, in my opinion, who should be hailed as “good parents”. Again, in my opinion, and only my personal opinion, both the parents who blindly follow doctor’s advice, and those who completely ignore doctor’s advice, both without compelling reason or research are lacking. Not to say these are bad parents per say, but in these cases, there is more they could be doing for their children and it is a disservice to the children not to put that extra effort into something as important as medical decisions.

    Equal rights, equal responsibilities.

  • invalid-0

    Actually many of us who did not get all the vaccines for our kids did NOT have the measles vaccination and in fact had the measles as Peggy points out in her article. I had the measles as did nearly every kid my age (I am 52)–I never heard of anyone dying of the measles–we also had rubella and mumps and chickenpox–the worst I ever heard of was some kids would have a couple scars from scratching the itchy spots. Benefits should always outweigh risks–I chose to get some vaccines for my girls and not others. They had DT (no pertussis) as toddlers and the rubella as adolescents because of the risk to future possible pregnancies. Sorry but look at real research–not what has been bought and paid for–vaccines are a major cause of triggering autism-not the only cause but a major one. Do you think the parents who watched their children have seizures after vaccines and then deteriorate before their eyes are just making it up? My sister had decided to not have all the shots at one time thinking that would be safer–her son had his DPT and started the high pitched screaming that often happens with this vaccine–he went from an easy happy baby to fussy and crying a lot. They convinced her to get the MMR at the next visit against her better judgement and he started having mini seizures, which even though they started the same day as the vaccines the clinic denied any connection! His development went downhill from there and he was diagnosed with autism a couple years later–thankfully with a gluten/dairy free diet and lots of therapy he is doing better today–but it took many years of hard work to bring him back–and he will still never be fully able to be on his own. His little brother who she did not have any vaccines is fine–she made the informed decision to not vaccinate him due to his brothers reactions. The trouble is trying to pin it on just one cause such as MMR when it is usually a combination of factors. It is unfortunate that you support freedom of choice for only limited issues. Life is full of choices and risks–we can’t eliminate all risks so we have to make choices sometimes that others do not. The risk from diptheria and tetanus were worth the risk–measles and chicken pox not worth it. Also many of us are not opposed to vaccines in theory(those who are opposed to the whole idea of vaccines are a very small minority) but until the pharmaceutical companies are forced to make safer vaccines we will choose to not inject multiple known toxins and heavy metals into our childrens bodies. Of course they have NO incentive to change anything at this time! My oldest daughter did get most of the vaccines for her kids–but like me chose to not get all of them.

  • invalid-0

    Please understand that people die in this world of Polio every single day. And that the ONLY reason it doesn’t exist anymore in the U.S. is thanks to Dr. Salk and his Polio vaccine in the mid 50’s, which is being given to kids since then. Indian children should be so lucky.

    But please don’t take my word for it, take your unvaccinated grandchildren for a trip to India or another country sufferng such endemic disease because they don’t have the orthodox medicines and funding the west has enjoyed.

    Peggy O’Mara is a foolish ideologue so full of hubris – sheilded from disease in the U.S. thanks to herd immunity that she can afford this heartless, discompassionate ignorance when it comes to the realities of other societies that, unfortunately, suffer disease, suffering and death on a daily basis from the lack of what Peggy takes for granted.

    Again, this is a woman who is glorifying Christine Maggiore – a woman who knew she tested positive for HIV and still neglected the health of her children by refusing to have them tested for the virus, for breastfeeding them knowing full well that when clean water and fortified formula is available, it’s ALWAYS optimal to risking HIV (per the World Health Organization) infection and for treating her daughter’s weeks-long PCP pneumonia and encephalitis with homeopathy when the child had a devastated immune system, thanks to Christine Maggiore’s flagrant neglect. The 3 year old child died of untreated AIDS, something that happened in the 80’s but ended after antiviral therapy in the U.S. – COMPLETELY preventable. Now Christine Maggiore is dead herself from bi-lateral pneumonia, disseminated Herpes and oral thrush at the age of 52 – all illnesses found ONLY in people with devastated immune systems.

    Christine Maggiore denied the existence and leathal nature of HIV but HIV had the last laugh when it took daughter and then mother.

    Yeah Peggy, let’s hail her as Mother of the Year! Your judgment of good parenting is priceless.

  • invalid-0

    “Up until 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) left the infant-feeding choice up to the HIV mother herself. By 1998, the recommendation had changed and WHO recommended safe alternatives to breastfeeding. As a retired La Leche League Leader, I was dismayed that breastfeeding was contraindicated in HIV because up until then, only one disease-untreated, active tuberculosis-contraindicated breastfeeding.”

    Peggy, What is there to be “dismayed” about?! Understand that just because your obsession and fixation on breastfeeding trumps the risk of a breastfeeding mother passing a lethal virus to her child, doesn’t mean that every single World Health Organization’s doctors and scientists behave as irrationally!

    If the choice is HIV-tainted breastmilk or starvation, the former is optimal. If the choice is HIV-tainted breastmilk or formula that must be mixed with unclean water in a third-world country, the former is optimal. BUT when the choice is HIV-tainted breastmilk or fortified formula and a CLEAN water source, the former is CONTRAINDICATED.

    Likewise, if the choice is an HIV-tainted blood transfusion or no transfusion in a life or death situation where there is no other blood available – you take the HIV-tainted blood. Because LIVING is optimal and then you’ll figure out how to treat this virus afterwards. But if you can avoid HIV infection, every single scientist and the World Health Organization believes you should absolutely do so.

    Sometimes – yes, sometimes – breastfeeding is NOT best.

    Are you so rabidly committed to your position that you can’t fathom one single situation where there could potentially be an exception to the rule of breastfeeding, even to save a child’s life?!

    I realize you can’t possibly be objective or rational here, as you sit on the advisory board of Alive and Well (Christine Maggiore’s smoke-screen lure of death, telling other HIV positive people to forgo treatment for their disease) and have dug yourself into a deep hole of hailing her as a loving mother.

    What toxic egg on your face now that she and her HIV-positive daughter are dead from AIDS. But you go right ahead and keep barreling down the road with blinders on, as you have done for so long.

  • invalid-0

    The world is extremely complicated because of medical science! When every day something else is pinpointed as harmful, not harmful. What is a person to believe? If you all want to be healty without drugs, Become and organic vegan. If you could see how animals live and die in their filth and then are sent to grocery stores injected with dyes,radiated, loaded with antibiotics, you would change your diets for life. This is real people wake up and see for yourself-even soy is genetically modified with herbicides pesticides, cancer causers! Cows milk full of pus and hormones, cancer causers. Please wake up change your diets for the sake of the planet and the animals, and if you care about your childrens futures. You are what you eat.

  • invalid-0

    The reason most of these diseases have been almost eliminated in developed countries and are still rampant in others has more to do with the increase in availability of clean water and good sanitation. Look at history and statistics on this. Again instead of going after thoughtful, well informed parents who make difficult decisions why not go after medical people who refuse to make safer vaccines. I have to say though that I would probably not have nursed a baby if I had AIDS–in countries with a safe water suppyly yes you are probably right that formula is safer–but 3rd world countries the risk of formula is always going to be higher for any disease. Again it is often a balancing act and I agree with Peggy that informed consientious parents need to be free to make their own decisions about care–this seems to be a similar arguement that the anti-choice folks have that women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions about their own bodies–very patronizing. Right now as I write this I see a gaggle of kids on my block( I live on a cul de sac) riding bikes, skateboards and scooters–not one has a helmet on–many well meaning people would love to accuse their parents of neglect, the 2 kids who do have to wear helmets are rarely ever out riding and guess what –they are overweight. So which is worse? There is risk and benefit to manyof the decisions we make as parents and as long as there is not dangerous abuse or sexual abuse then we need to leave parents alone–that is what it means to have freedom!

  • invalid-0

    It is not just freedom of conscious that is under assult. All human freedoms are under assult from the Democrats and Republicans. All of the outrages cited in the article can be traced directly to a Democrat or Republican administration. The only solution is to elect Libertarians, the Party of Freedom. People do not seem to understand that trying to pick and choose which freedoms to allow, results in everyone’s freedom being infringed due to the legal concept of precident. The only way to protect everyone’s freedom is to let everyone be free. Most people feel they are free. Just look at the examples in the article to realize you are not. Support the Libertarian Party to roll back the tide of tyrrany coming our way.

  • invalid-0

    “Parents are the only ones who will live with the consequences of their actions, so they must be the ones who make the final decisions. Anything else is tyranny.”

    The children are stuck with the results of their parents’ decisions, good or bad, for the rest of their lives, and yet the author wishes those parents to have total and complete control over them up to and including disability or death. Talk about tyranny. Children are the last slave class.

  • invalid-0

    It would be less disingenuous to just acknowledge that Mothering magazine is a longtime promoter of AIDS denial. The consequences of Maggiore’s decision was the death of her child from PCP at age 3. We don’t know how many other mothers followed her lead after reading about it in Mothering magazine, and how many other children died as a consequence.

  • julie-davids

    It is hard to know where to begin in addressing the inaccuracies in this post.

    To give one example:

    Asserting that breastfeeding is protective against HIV in infants in the United States is, in and of itself, unconscionable and not rooted in any relevant data.

    The very important data on the relative positive impact of sole breastfeeding in poor countries where this research is conducted is based, in part, on the sad reality that without access to clean water with which to mix infant formula, water-bourne infections bring a risk of infant mortality that can rival the impact of HIV infection, and that necessitates the need to find as-safe-as-possible breastfeeding methods.

    (as an aside, one method that has not been systematically investigated in poor nations hard-hit by HIV is the use of peer wet nurses – women who have given birth in the past who are not themselves living with HIV who could be sources of breast milk for those whose mothers have the virus, though issues of the risk of disclosure could limit its use.)

    My heart is heavy for my friends and others who are women living with HIV faced with challenging decisions regarding reproduction, childbirth and nursing. And issues of the inappropriate use of law enforcement in all aspects of HIV/AIDS are among the top ethical issues we must confront in this epidemic.

    But women with HIV, their families and their allies are best served by the provision of accurate information, not the kind of inaccuracies and propaganda popularized by the late Christine Maggiore.

    I dare say a Reality Check is badly needed in this case.

  • invalid-0

    You echoed exactly what I was saying above several times. Obviously, if the choice is an unclean water supply with which to mix formula and risk a life-threatening infection in an infant living in a society devoid the most basic medical care, then HIV-tainted breast milk is a better choice. But that is not the path of Peggy O’Mara. O’Mara is on the Advisory Board of Alive and Well, the late Christine Maggiore’s organization that provides smoke-screen for HIV positive people who are so terrified by having HIV that denial, even to their deaths, is preferable.

    It’s telling that O’Mara plays the same manipulative half-truths as did Maggiore by distorting facts (like why the WHO’s policy is what it is) and by insinuating that false positive HIV tests during pregnancy is common. It’s anything but. A false positive HIV test is extremely rare, EVEN during pregnancy.

    Isn’t it enough that Maggiore’s pigheaded hubris and denial of science killed her 3 year old daughter? Isn’t Maggiore’s own death 4 months ago from disseminated Herpes, bi-lateral pneumonia and oral thrush – all classic signs of a decimated immune system.

    O’Mara and the other HIV=AIDS denialists never seem to get a clue that denying that which causes you harm will ensure demise!

  • http://www.aidstruth.org invalid-0

    O’Mara is indeed an HIV denialist who shares responsibility for the illness and death of HIV+ women and children who are deterred from lifesaving prevention and treatment by her magazine. Thanks to to other posters who cited the deaths from AIDS of Christine Maggiore and her 3 year old daughter: it is astounding that O’Mara left out this salient detail and that RH Reality Check would post this piece. The article is full of many other deceptions and errors as well.

    O’Mara is outraged that, on television, “Measles is depicted as a life-threatening disease instead of the mild illness that my friends and I all had as children.” She says that only 47 children died of measles in 2007. But worldwide, measles is a leading cause of children’s deaths: in 2007, almost 200,000 children died from measles, most of them in poor countries that could not offer vaccination. And that doesn’t count blindness, pneumonia, and other complications. Almost all children who get measles are unvaccinated, in the US and elsewhere.

    O’Mara also misrepresents Paul Offit’s brilliant book on lies about autism as part of Mothering Magazine’s campaign against vaccination. Far from patronizing the parents of autistic children, Offit recognizes that they have been misled by a media-driven fraud to attribute autism to vaccination, despite the absence of one single shred of evidence that there is a connection, and very extensive evidence that there is no relationship whatsoever. He argues that these parents are being taken advantage of by quacks who subject their children to terrible fake “therapies” like chelation that harm and do not help them. And he has been celebrated by parents of autistic children who want to know the real causes and real solutions, and don’t want their children to be treated as damaged or absent or soulless, as the anti-vaccine crowd does.

    On prenatal AZT, O’Mara neglects to cite her sources, because accountability would destroy her argument. In fact, the risks of adverse consequence from perinatal AZT are lower than the risk of HIV infection if treatment is withheld, and the consequences of HIV infection and are far more severe than the occasional negative effects of AZT.

    Most fundamentally, children, once born, have a human right to health that their parents cannot deprive them of. And when parents do abuse their children through medical neglect, the government has an obligation to protect these most vulnerable members of our communities. It is the children, not their parents, who are killed and disabled by the lies and quackery O’Mara and Mothering promulgate.

  • invalid-0

    Scott Swenson has written about AIDS denial on RH Reality Check, so it’s shocking to find this post here. That it sits under two menu items entitled “Fact v. Fiction” and “Reckless Rhetoric” is ironic, to say the least.

    This is from the Wikipedia entry on Mothering Magazine:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_(magazine)

    “AIDS denialism –

    Under Peggy O’Mara, Mothering has featured a number of articles by Celia Farber which deny the link between HIV and AIDS and criticize anti-retroviral drug treatment that offers better chances of survival for children born to HIV-positive mothers, as well as criticizing anti-breastfeeding advice which, when followed, prevents transmission of HIV to breastfeeding children in breast milk.[2] Of late AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore’s book, What If Everything You Thought You Knew about AIDS Was Wrong?, O’Mara said “There is another way to look at HIV and AIDS! Simple, to the point, and impeccable in its scholarship.” Maggiore featured on the cover of Mothering magazine in 2001, pregnant with second child Eliza Jane and advocating against measures which reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In 2005, Eliza Jane died of Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia as a result of untreated AIDS.”