Thursday, January 8, 2009

Private Mal-Practice

Last night, I happened to have been walking by the television at 10pm on my way from my organic indoor garden to my yoga mat, munching on my soy-ice cream bar and relaxing to the smooth sounds of whale mating on my reclaimed Ipod, and there must have been some short in our cable because for some reason I cannot explain, ABC's Private Practice was on.

One of the episode's storylines was about a mother of three boys whose oldest son had autism that she attributed to a vaccine, and whose younger sons were not vaccinated. Of course, the whole point of this back-story is that Middle Son comes down with what ultimately turns out to be a fatal case of Measles, complete with the obligatory "Overinvolved Doctor Who Continues Chest Compressions Long After Patient is Dead" and unnecessary shots of the dead kid, which were disturbing. Despite this, the mom refuses to vaccinate Youngest Son and in a scene I can only imagine some Hollywood writer on a vaccine high thought would seem heroic, Dude Doctor practically jumps Youngest Son to vaccinate him despite the mother's shouts of protest . . . In other scenes, doctors claim that refusing to vaccinate one's child is "child abuse," parents should be turned into the state social services agency when they refuse to vaccinate, and "there's no link" between vaccines and autism.

I'm guessing that Merck - the only manufacturer of the MMR vaccine in the United States - held a private viewing of the episode, because there's nothing a huge drug company loves more than pretty actors saying that if parents really loved their kids, they'd pump their product into them as soon as possible, while the not-so-pretty actors portray the bad parents whose failure to do so killed their kid.

Beyond the obvious argument that vaccines are preventative medicine that pose no danger to children, I also had a major issue with the way the episode dealt with the mom. In response to Dude Doctor's "vaccines don't cause autism" argument, Mom said, "I know what I know" - she'd witnessed her son's change in behavior after he was vaccinated. Yet somehow, her experience and intuition were brushed off as Dude Doctor clung to stats and saved the day by plunging the needle into the youngest kid's arm.

Look, I know this is just a television program (a not-very-well-written program at that), but since I wasted an hour of my life watching it, I figure I can spend a few minutes talking about what utter garbage it is. I'm sure I'm sensitive to the subject since my child hasn't had the MMR vaccine. FD and I have decided to postpone some of Ruby's vaccines, and reject others altogether. This choice wasn't easy, and I think about it nearly every day, but we didn't come to it lightly, and it was an informed decision.

To sum this tirade up: Private Practice is lame, and so is the crazy pro-vaccine movement that wants parents to shelve the research in favor of fear-mongering. I'm not saying I oppose all vaccines - although many of them are unnecessary - but I am arguing that parents ought to go beyond the pamphlet they get in the pediatrician's office or the pushy positions of family and friends, and check out what's in these vaccines (it will shock you) and what the possible side effects are.

(Don't even get me started on how pushing Gardasil is the typical anti-feminist medical approach: Force virtually untested "vaccines" into girls' bodies, then sit back and wait for the fallout. What are the side effects of this vaccine? Who knows! How long will it last? Can't tell! Why are girls' bodies being used as laboratories when a vaccine like this could just as easily be given to boys? Duh, 'cause they're girls!)

If you want more info on childhood vaccines, check out Dr. Sears' website. For another parent's perspective, go here.


Allyson said...

to quote rod stewart, "have i told you lately that i love you?"
i love this post!

FIRST DUDE said...

also to quote rod stewart,"if you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on baby let me know".
greys anatomy is so much better than private practice!?

Allyson said...

FD, have i told you lately that i hate you? i just totally LOLed, OMG!!

Sarah said...

I saw Jenny McCarthy on tv recently talking about the work she does to raise awareness about the dangers of vaccinations. So you will be glad to know that there is at least one pretty actor working for the cause. I want you to tell me more about vaccinations the next time I see you. I am so uninformed on this issue and it's scary!

M. Christensen said...

I started watching this show and got about 5 minutes in when I decided I better google "private practice and autism" to see if it was going to boil my blood and thanks to some of the blogs I read, I avoided the show altogether. I loved your post! It said everything that I would have said (except all the zen stuff, my life is choas) if I wrote more eliquently. If you don't mind I would like to link to this on my blog. because you said it mama!