By World Mercury Project Board Member: JB Handley, Co-Founder, Generation Rescue
A Big Pharma/CDC-funded front group, Every Child By Two, is organizing opposition to a new rule about conscience-based protection from vaccination written by the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Health and Human Services — the CDC’s parent organization. Corruption abounds.
It’s a confusing story, which is just how groups like Every Child By Two prefer things to be. Like many organizations that abuse the 501(c)(3) rules of the Internal Revenue Service, Every Child By Two (“ECBT”) puts on a front to the world that they are an independent, compassionate organization of parents — originally founded by Rosalynn Carter no less — dedicated to the important work of getting every child vaccinated. In fact, the organization is really a sock-puppet mouthpiece for two masters: 1) the Centers for Disease Control and, 2) vaccine makers, their two primary sources of funding. Recently, ECBT appears to be biting the very hand that feeds their organization, taking a public stand against a new rule being proposed by the parent of the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). I’ll explain it to you in six simple steps.
1. Every Child By Two is a CDC/Big Pharma sock puppet
Have you ever heard of a “Special Interest Dot-Org”? It’s a front group for a special interest masquerading as a non-profit organization, and ECBT is one of the more notorious “SIDs” in existence — at least to parents of vaccine-injured children like me. I first wrote about ECBT back in 2008, when nearly half of their annual funding came from the vaccine maker Wyeth. Just a few months ago in late 2017, the British Medical Journalpublished their own scathing critique of non-profit, pro-vaccine front groups funded by both the CDC and vaccine makers, and specifically mentioned ECBT:
“IAC, ECBT, and AAP have a few things in common. They are all non-profit organizations with large online presences that promote themselves as sources of reliable information on vaccines. They also receive funding from both vaccine manufacturers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, in their advocacy for compulsory vaccination, they all have in common a goal that pushes beyond official governmental policy and, in the case of influenza vaccines, the evidence.”
The British Medical Journal went on to describe why groups like ECBT were so problematic, and deceitful, explaining that, “these groups are so strongly pro-vaccination that the public is getting a one-sided message that all vaccines are created equal and vaccination is an important public health strategy, regardless of the circumstances.” Not surprisingly, there was no evidence that any of the front groups had ever exercised any independent thought.
2. The New HHS Proposed Rule
Earlier this week, ECBT sent an email to all of their constituents around the country, encouraging them to sign on to their letter protesting a new rule being proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Before I explain how ECBT is “biting the hand that feeds it” (and perhaps breaking several federal laws along the way), I’ll explain a bit more about the proposed rule, why vaccine industry front groups — and therefore vaccine makers themselves — are so worried about the new rule’s potential impact, and some of the silly arguments they are making to oppose the new proposed rules.
On January 26, 2018, the Office of Civil Rights within HHS issued a proposed change of rules, titled “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority.” The new rule makes clear that HHS will enforce any violation of civil rights within the healthcare field, specifically as it relates to the either religious beliefs or conscience of a healthcare worker or a patient. The memo explains:
“The freedoms of conscience and of religious exercise are foundational rights protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by Federal statutes. These laws ensure, for example, that Americans are not compelled to speak, to salute the flag, to join a national church, or to vote for a particular candidate. They also ensure that, as a general matter, the Federal government may not discriminate against its citizens for the views they hold. Congress has passed laws protecting conscience and religious freedom with particular force in the health care context, and it is these statutes that are the subject of this proposed rule.”
As a simple example, if a healthcare worker were unwilling to participate in an abortion because it violated their religious beliefs or their conscience, the new HHS rule would ensure that they wouldn’t be punished for electing not to participate. If you want to read more about the rule itself, the Washington Post provided a helpful summary.
3. ECBT’s concern with the rule: Gutting mandatory vaccine legislation
ECBT isn’t concerned with abortions, but they are concerned with something else the new HHS rule specifically discusses many times: vaccines. For example, the HHS memo explains:
“Despite the longstanding nature of the Federal health care conscience and associated anti-discrimination laws that this rule proposes to enforce, discrimination and coercion continue to occur. Relevant situations where persons, entities, and health care entities with religious beliefs or moral convictions may be coerced or suffer discrimination include: being required to administer or receive certain vaccinations derived from aborted fetal tissues as a condition of work or receipt of educational services.”
For a group like ECBT, who lobbied heavily in support of SB277 — a California law passed in 2015 that REMOVED religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccines for children — this new rule, and the specific mention of vaccination, represents an enormous threat. In the draft letterthat ECBT has prepared to file with HHS on March 18th, they spell out their concerns and how they would like to see the rule changed:
Having read the proposed rule change from HHS, I think ECBT should be concerned, as it appears removing a religious objection to vaccination, as ECBT has actively (and successfully) campaigned to do in California, is a gross violation of civil rights, as defined by the constitution, and now clarified by the HHS’ Office of Civil Rights. In fact, any state that doesn’t provide a religious exemption to vaccination, and denies the child the right of an education if they don’t submit to vaccines, is likely violating constitutional rights. (Mississippi and West Virginia, along with California, are the three states that have no philosophical or religious exemption from vaccines.) It also raises concerns about the way states like New York treat parents who seek religious exemptions, often requiring them to submit to a skeptical interrogation where judgment is made about the sincerity of their religious beliefs.
4. ECBT’s absurd, freedom-stealing arguments, framed by Dorit Reiss
Dorit Reiss is a notorious pro-vaccine lawyer, well-known to most autism parents. Behind the scenes, it appears she has been the central legal mind constructing ECBT’s arguments about the constitutionality of eliminating religious exemptions from vaccines. These arguments were successfully used to pass California’s SB 277 and have been core arguments used in every other state where mandatory vaccination laws have been introduced (to date, they have all failed except for SB 277). In fact, in the email sent by ECBT earlier this week, they mention Ms. Reiss by name, despite her having no official role with ECBT, for the work she has done in preparing their protest memo to HHS.
Ms. Reiss’ central argument is that because no organized religions specifically oppose vaccination, citing a religious belief as the reason for not vaccinating is unnecessary, and therefore religious or philosophical exemptions to vaccination should be abolished. ECBT’s memo to HHSbegins with a statement that should make any freedom-loving American cringe:
“Freedom to practice religion is a fundamental right in the U.S., guaranteed by the very first Amendment to our Constitution. However, no right is absolute. If compelling reasons exist to limit this right, we must seriously consider their potential impact.”
The memo then makes the argument that no organized religions oppose vaccination:
When reading ECBT’s memo, I can’t help but feel like it was dictated by some wishful-thinking employee within the legal department of a vaccine maker. In their glee to make vaccines mandatory for every person on planet earth, they’re more than willing to use tortured logic to try and convince people that religious beliefs and conscience only count if two things are true:
- Your religious beliefs are sanctioned by an “official” religion somewhere, and
- That they never interfere with the ability to make you get a vaccine.
Luckily, that’s actually not the kind of guaranteed freedom the United States was founded upon, as a lawsuit this week by the Justice Department makes very, very clear.
5. Justice Department sues to protect inalienable rights of conscience, specifically to avoid vaccination
ECBT’s email was sent out to their distribution list on Monday, March 5th. Two days later, national news hit that the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin that appears to destroy every argument Ms. Reiss and ECBT have been trying to make, while also re-affirming the fact that the government NEVER has the right to force a medical procedure on a citizen that violates the citizen’s strongly held beliefs, whether those are religious beliefs or beliefs of conscience.
To summarize the Justice Department’s lawsuit, a woman working in Wisconsin was threatened to be fired from a nursing home for refusing to get a flu shot because she claimed it violated her religious beliefs. Rather than accept her reason for avoiding the shot, the nursing home threatened to fire her, because she didn’t “provide a letter from a clergy member testifying to her faith” and “she had no affiliation with any church or organized religion.” This is exactly the same argument that ECBT and Ms. Reiss are using to justify mandatory vaccinations, which is why the lawsuit from the Justice Department is so interesting and relevant to this debate and to the HHS memo. The woman ended up getting the flu shot to keep her job, and suffered severe emotional distress as a result, according to the Justice Department’s lawsuit.
This new lawsuit hits at the very reason that removing religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccination violates the constitution, no matter what argument Ms. Reiss and her special interests put forth. The United States was founded on the simple idea that the state can’t force you to do something if it violates your beliefs, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR BELIEFS ARE. As the lawsuit from the Justice Department explains:
“At times relevant here, Defendant discriminated against Williams on the basis of her religion (Christianity), in violation of Section 703(a) of Title VII, by maintaining, and enforcing against her, a written policy that required employees to submit a letter from a clergy leader in order to obtain a religious exemption from its mandatory flu shot and thus discriminated against adherents of religions which did not have clergy (and therefore could not provide a letter from a clergy leader) from obtaining the exemption.”
Even more poignantly, the HHS Memo explains the simple principle that conscience must always be respected by quoting a 1965 Supreme Court decision:
“[B]oth morals and sound policy require that the State should not violate the conscience of the individual. All our history gives confirmation to the view that liberty of conscience has a moral and social value which makes it worthy of preservation at the hands of the state. So deep in its significance and vital, indeed, is it to the integrity of man’s moral and spiritual nature that nothing short of the self-preservation of the state should warrant its violation; and it may well be questioned whether the state which preserves its life by a settled policy of violation of the conscience of the individual will not in fact ultimately lose it by the process.”
6. Within their memo, ECBT also plays false “herd immunity” card
ECBT’s draft letter to the HHS not only makes the argument that organized religions don’t oppose vaccination (so therefore your beliefs can’t, either), they also play the “herd immunity” card to try and justify forcing vaccinations onto all children. They also argue that pediatric practices should be allowed to exclude unvaccinated children, because they represent a health threat to others. Specifically, ECBT argues:
“Vaccines protect both the individuals vaccinated and those around them from dangerous diseases (a concept known as “community protection”). Most vaccine-preventable diseases are transmitted from person to person, so if a high proportion of the population is vaccinated and immune, then the chains of transmission are broken. For example, a child can be protected against measles or whooping cough, even if they have not yet reached the recommended age for vaccination, if enough people around them have been vaccinated and are less likely to carry or transmit the disease. Conversely, if not enough individuals are vaccinated, diseases can once again spread through a community, affecting even those who were vaccinated. Thus, the medical community strongly supports vaccination according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended immunization schedule.”
Unfortunately for ECBT, very notion of vaccine-derived herd immunity is completely false, as anyone with a rational mind can quickly understand. Three simple ways to disprove herd immunity include:
i. Adult vaccination rates are well below herd immunity thresholds, and always have been. The Hill newspaper had an excellent article that explained this.
ii. All vaccine protection wanes over time, with most vaccines losing their effectiveness within 10 years. As one simple example, protection from the DTP vaccine wanes very quickly, perhaps in as little as 5 years, which means most Americans, by their late teens, no longer have any immunity protection to Whooping Cough. Combine that with point #1 — low vaccination rates for all adults — and we are nowhere near any herd immunity thresholds as a society. (Check out this website to see how long vaccine protection lasts, listed by vaccine.)
iii. The vaccination history of the United States. Here’s a chart of the vaccination rate, by vaccine, for American children in 1985. (Data provided by the CDC here.) Notice anything fishy?
Were you alive in 1985? I was. Do you remember any panic about infectious disease? I don’t. And, the three vaccines that existed had vaccination rates of 63%, 53%, and 61%, respectively. See all those 0% vaccination rates? Those vaccines hadn’t even been introduced yet. In 1986, vaccine makers were indemnified from liability for any vaccines they made and — presto! — the number of vaccines given to children more than tripled. Equally, those vaccination rates were more than enough to keep diseases like Polio and Measles at bay. Today, vaccination rates for children are far higher (most above 90%), so what is ECBT so worried about?
Big question: Is Every Child By Two — or the CDC — breaking Federal Law?
I think the answer to that question is “Yes” but let’s clarify a few facts first:
1. CDC is a division of HHS.
In case you didn’t know how the Federal health establishment was organized, the Director of the CDC reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the CDC is a subsidiary of HHS, which is where this new rule being proposed originates:
2. CDC provides at least 25% of ECBT’s revenues, it may be much more.
Using the public 990s that all “non-profit” organizations are required to file, at least 25% of ECBT’s annual revenues are provided by the CDC.
3. CDC’s funding of ECBT’s activities appears to violate federal law.
The British Medical Journal’s special report on SIDs explained how CDC may actually be violating federal laws by using organizations like ECBT to lobby and influence federal policy:
“Officially, the CDC is neutral on vaccine mandates, and the agency steers clear of directly influencing state law, telling The BMJ: “CDC’s policy is to not take positions on state-specific legislation.” But the CDC gives money to non-profits that actively work in this void. Presumably, these activities are funded from non-CDC sources, as US federal law prohibits the use of CDC award money for lobbying, a prohibition that “includes grass roots lobbying efforts by award recipients that are directed at inducing members of the public to contact their elected representatives to urge support of, or opposition to, proposed or pending legislation,” according to CDC policy.”
- Every Child By Two is a front group for vaccine makers and the CDC, the source of virtually all of their funding.
- The British Medical Journalrecently published a special report on the deceptive, and potentially illegal, tactics of organizations like ECBT.
- A new division of HHS, the Office of Civil Rights, has created a new rule to protect religious liberties and liberties of conscience, including freedom from mandatory vaccination if vaccination violates your sincerely held beliefs.
- In organizing a memo to protest the HHS’ new rule, ECBT is focusing on arguments that a recent Justice Department lawsuit appears to have destroyed.
- Not only does ECBT’s memo and protest of the HHS new rules appear misguided, but in this case ECBT is arguing against a set of rules proposed by the Federal agency (HHS) that funds their organization through one of its units, the CDC.
ECBT’s actions raise more questions than I can answer, these are just a few of them:
- Is the CDC breaking federal laws by funding an organization that lobbies on behalf of specific laws?
- How can CDC, a federal entity, fund an organization that seems to be arguing against religious freedom and freedom of conscience, something our constitution clearly provides for and Justice Department is acting to enforce?
- Why would CDC provide funding to an organization protesting against a rule written by the parent organization of the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services?
ECBT is nothing more than a mouthpiece for vaccine makers and the CDC. It’s a way for vaccine makers to influence policy without having to stand on the front lines and perhaps for the CDC to quietly influence policy, too. The revolving door between CDC and Big Pharma means that they tend to operate in lockstep. Through the actions of a sock-puppet nonprofit like ECBT, parents like you and me get a little window into how this corrupt, and potentially illegal, world operates.
If you feel your civil rights have been violated by mandatory vaccination laws, or harassment when trying to claim a religious exemption, you can now file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. Kent Heckenlively provided his insights on the importance of this new rule, and some actions you could take.
*Article originally appeared World Mercury Project. Reposted with permission.