Anti-vaccination evangelist and former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy has been invited to join ABC's The View. Rightfully so, many medical professionals, scientists, and parents are concerned about giving the staunch anti-vaccination advocate such a platform to spread her unscientific and disproved view that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations lead to autism. McCarthy has already fueled a public health disaster and this opens up the possibility of endangering the lives of more children.
Why is Jenny McCarthy so anti-vaccination? It all starts with an infamous medical paper known as the 1998 Lancet paper, authored by Andrew Wakefield. The paper spawned the basis of the claim that vaccinations can lead to autism, and subsequently a decade-long public health scare. By 2004, 10 of Wakefield's 12 co-authors withdrew support for the paper's conclusions after other researchers failed to replicate the data. Additionally, after an investigation by the British General Medical Council, which found ethical problems with the study, the Lancet retracted the article for falsified elements. Problems with the Wakefield's study included hand-selecting children whose parents believed in the conclusion before any study, disregarding signs of developmental delay and disorders in some of the children before any MMR vaccine dose was administered, and falsifying the results of what happened to the children after giving the MMR vaccine to fit his conclusion. Wakefield was subsequently stripped of his medical license.
Yet for McCarthy, who has an autistic son herself, she still believes in the discredited conclusion despite all of its scientific backing being proved wrong. She has lead one of the most successful misinformation campaigns regarding the unproven dangers of vaccination (only to be surpassed by denials of climate change due to "lack of evidence"). Her claims are insulting to those who are autistic, as it treats their genetically-born condition as something that can and should be "fixed." And her public health damage is ever-growing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, instances of infectious diseases preventable by vaccination are now on an increase after many years of decline. The website jennymccarthybodycount.com shows this public health impact in even more detail.
Armed with her dangerous views, McCarthy now has the use of The View to spread her scientifically-unfounded claims, which have the potential of seriously harming children. I have no qualms with The View making the decision to hire such a controversial co-host to their show. They have every right to do that. But if McCarthy speaks on the issue vaccination and its link of autism, The View must understand that they will be complicit in promoting the spread of misinformation that will endanger lives. I hope that the producers there have a strong moral compass to ensure that more children will not be harmed.