Bioethicists have joined together to offer a reward of $11,000 to anyone who can prove the child Michele Bachmann mentioned repeatedly on television this week actually became “mentally retarded” from the HPV vaccine. One of the scientists is from Bachmann’s home state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reports:
Steven Miles, a U of M bioethics professor, said that he’ll give $1,000 if the medical records of the woman from Bachmann’s story are released and can be viewed by a medical professional.
His offer was upped by his former boss from the University of Minnesota, Art Caplan, who is now director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. Caplan said he would match Miles’ challenge and offered $10,000 for proof of the HPV vaccine victim.
“These types of messages in this climate have the capacity to do enormous public health harm,” Miles said of why he made the offer. “The woman, assuming she exists, put this claim into the public domain and it’s an extremely serious claim and it deserves to be analyzed.”
Stupid scientists, trying to get in the way of a good story. Bachmann retreated a little, saying that she was essentially repeating what she was told. So if she hears a rumor Canada doesn’t like us, is she going to run to the UN and launch a bombing campaign? She has no problem scaring parents across America with vaccine myths.
I have a theory, one that was touched on by Crooks and Liars as well. Bachmann meant to say autism, based on debunked claims about vaccines and autism, and conflated it with mental retardation - two entirely different diagnoses. That woman may exist, and may have told Bachmann her daughter developed autism from vaccination. Here’s the problem - Let’s pretend, in an alternate bizarro universe, that vaccines could cause autism. The HPV vaccine is given most commonly at 12 years of age. According to the Mayo Clinic, children show symptoms at a very young age, sometimes as young as 12 months. The symptoms of autism would have been apparent long before age 12.
So long story short, Bachmann is probably full of it, and this woman either doesn’t exist, or is repeating the anti-vaccine myth that has been debunked many times over. It’s going to be tough for her to fully walk this one back. She justified it by saying, “I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician.” Oh, you’re not? So it wasn’t intended to be a factual statement? Then quit spreading misinformation.