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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The State, Mandatory Health Care, and Eugenics

May 8, 2020

Some thoughts on government power, the public good, and mandatory policies:

Australian leader Scott Morrison recently said that those in some sports codes should not be allowed to play unless they are vaccinated. As one report put it: “Prime Minister Scott Morrison says players who refuse to get a flu shot should be banned from competing in the NRL. Mr Morrison is adamant players should abide by a ‘no jab, no play’ policy after Gold Coast anti-vaxxer Bryce Cartwright polarised the rugby league community with his stance.”

Of course with those remarks he again opened up the can of worms concerning things like mandatory vaccinations, and the debate about freedom versus public health concerns. How far can and should the state go in depriving people of their liberties in the interests of keeping them safe?

Morrison has previously been pushing this hard line, saying that if Australians want some of their freedoms back, they must take up the corona phone tracking app. As I already said about that, many Australians are not at all impressed with such bribery or blackmail. And many folks understand that what is voluntary today can so very easily become mandatory tomorrow. See more details about various concerns on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/04/27/on-corona-tracking-apps/

As to the vax debate, there are plenty of folks and websites etc., that believe vaccinations are just fine, are safe, and should be mandatory for all. And then there are plenty of folks and websites etc., that believe vaccinations are not fine, are not safe, and should not be mandatory for all.

That battle is fought all over the place, and I am not here directly wading into it. As I have said before, I am not a medical expert nor a scientist, and I realise that even those who are can have quite differing views on these matters. So here I want to limit my discussion to how far the state might go in forcing various health and safety measures onto the population.

That it already does this in all sorts of ways is obvious. For example, all Australian drivers must wear seatbelts, whether they want to or not. When such laws first appeared, there were plenty of folks up in arms over this. Now we all do as we were told – not so much because we all necessarily fully agree, but because of the heavy arm of the law coming into play. If we refuse to comply, fines and demerit points and so on are dished out. So state power has brought about widespread compliance.

In that particular case it might be fair enough. But what about in other areas? Again, plenty of people for various reasons are convinced that vaccinations are not safe, reliable and effective, and they have plenty of concerns about personal freedom being undone by the nanny state.

Other folks may think that vaccines are basically OK, but they still can have related concerns. For example, what about claims made by prolifers that researchers are developing a vaccine for Covid-19 using aborted baby parts? I too would have real worries about such things.

What happens if and when the state demands that all people are vaccinated for things like coronavirus, and if some of those vaccines do indeed have very questionable ethical elements to them? Should we all be made to submit? How far does the ‘good of society’ trump individual freedoms and other concerns?

If we have things like mandatory vaccinations today, then will things like mandatory sterilisation – for the good of society of course – be the next item on the state’s hitlist? And there is nothing farfetched about such concerns at all. Forced sterilisations have often been part of the way the state deals with people in their take on the public good.

Eugenics

The 20th century has already seen its fair share of destructive eugenics. Nazi Germany of course led the way here. Among other things, over 3,500,000 German citizens were forcibly sterilised by the Nazis as part of their program to bring in a pure Aryan race – a “master race”.

But it is not just totalitarian states that have utilised eugenics for various ends. Consider the free and democratic United States. Early last century various compulsory sterilisation laws were enacted, with many who were physically or mentally unfit being the victims. These policies and programs were urged on by eugenicists such as Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood). All up some 65,000 Americans were forcibly sterilised.

As I said in an earlier piece about Sanger: “Her publication Birth Control Review once featured this slogan: ‘Birth Control: To Create a Race of Thoroughbreds’. In her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization, she called for the elimination of ‘human weeds,’ for the cessation of charity, for the segregation of ‘morons, misfits and the maladjusted’ and the sterilisation of ‘genetically inferior races’.” billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/20/the-menace-of-eugenics/

With so much horrific medical experimentation having been done by the Nazis, and so many war crimes to be dealt with, the Nuremberg trials were held in 1945-1946. Eventually the “Nuremberg Code” was released dealing with “Permissible Medical Experiments.” The first and final points contained there are worth sharing here:

-The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

-During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.

-During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill and careful judgment required of him that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.

While this of course is dealing more specifically with medical experimentation, the points raised here do have some relevance for contemporary debates about things like mandatory vaccinations. Should all vaccines be only voluntarily received, or can the state force unwilling citizens to take them, if it is seen to be in the public interest?

Of course just on the matter of personal freedom alone, I would have real problems with many mandatory government health measures. In an earlier article I asked about how far we go with things like rules preventing people seeing loved ones in aged care facilities unless they have flu shots. Such laws came into effect here a week ago: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/04/13/healthcare-the-state-and-liberty/

Some have concerns about just how safe vaccines are. As I say, I am not an authority on such matters, and I am fully aware of the very strong pro and con camps that exist on this. But worries about the expansive state and shrinking freedoms sure do remain for me.

One prolife and pro-faith group now has a petition out on this very issue. It begins with these words:

People of good will can disagree about the safety, efficacy and religious implications of a new vaccine for the coronavirus. But, everyone should agree on this point: No government can force anyone who has reached legal adulthood to be vaccinated against their will for the coronavirus. And, equally, no government can force minors to be vaccinated for the coronavirus against the will of their parents or guardians. Please SIGN this urgent petition which urges policy-makers at every level of government to reject calls for mandatory coronavirus vaccination. lifepetitions.com/petition/no-mandatory-vaccine-for-coronavirus

Let me point out one fact: It certainly is not just so-called nutters and conspiracy theorists who have concerns about things like mandatory vaccinations. There are various reputable medical bodies and academics who have spoken against it for various reasons as well.

Indeed, I just did a very quick internet search and came up with a number of these. Let me simply quote from two of them that I discovered. One piece from a Sydney university medical group concludes its piece on this topic as follows:

Unfortunately, while well intentioned this approach is imprudent. The problem of vaccine hesitancy is far more complex than can be addressed with a simple elimination of non-medical exemptions. Parents no longer fear diseases such as measles that have been largely controlled through vaccination. So parental fear has shifted from the diseases to the vaccines. 

Despite a remarkable safety record, vaccines are not perfect and many parental safety concerns have remained unaddressed. We lack effective tools at the provider, community and national levels to address vaccine hesitancy. Trust in pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines and governments that purchase and promote vaccines are at an all time low. A more draconian approach may result in more harm than good, and may even backfire by driving hesitant parents to become anti-vaccination.

This lesson was learned in the UK more than 150 years ago when they made smallpox vaccination compulsory, initially without non-medical exemptions. Anti-vaccination groups were joined by libertarians, and 20,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Leicester. Parents who refused vaccines became martyrs. The UK ultimately resorted to a non-medical (conscientious) exemption. 

Rather than repeating history, we need to learn from it. In fact, the recent legislative efforts have resulted in substantial backlash. This backlash has been a factor in the defeat of proposed laws in Washington and Oregon that proposed to restrict exemptions. There is substantial value in making exemptions more stringent and requiring health education. Getting rid of non-medical exemptions and making mandatory vaccination truly compulsory risks substantial public backlash and may be counter-productive to our ultimate objective of reaching and sustaining high rates of immunization coverage and controlling disease. sphcm.med.unsw.edu.au/news/making-vaccination-truly-compulsory-well-intentioned-ill-conceived

Another piece concludes this way:

There’s no simple, one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to convincing parents to immunise their families. Vaccination is an emotional topic that polarises populations – but when the consequences are a matter of life and death, sometimes we need to ditch the stick and hold out a hand instead. www.sciencealert.com/as-effective-as-they-might-be-making-vaccines-mandatory-breaks-trust-in-healthcare

Many more pieces like this could be offered. And both of these have no problems with vaccinations as such, but they do have questions about how helpful mandatory vaccinations are. Their main concern seems to be that such heavy-handed approaches will turn more folks off and result in less vaccinations occurring.

Of course my concerns are a bit broader, and again have to do with the dangers of ever-expanding state powers, even if they are thought to be for the public good. History records far too many cases of the state thinking it knows what is best for everyone else, with the result that freedoms keep declining while state powers keep increasing.

In sum, plenty of questions remain here. And even political and medical groups have questions about how helpful things like forced vaccinations are. All this is just part of a much larger discussion. So much more could be said, and I have only skimmed the surface here on some important matters.

As I have mentioned, the pro-vax versus anti-vax debate can be very hardcore and emotional indeed. It is not my intention to have that debate rerun here in the comments section. Again, my bigger concern was to look at questions about state power, and how far human freedoms can and should be restricted in the interests of public health and safety.

So if commentators wish to speak to that aspect of the debate, you are invited to do so. But simply coming here with angry and emotive comments – on either side of the well-worn debate – along with a bunch of “must watch” YouTube videos is not what I will be keen to allow here, thanks.

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23 Responses to The State, Mandatory Health Care, and Eugenics

  • I need to be the first to comment here. As mentioned, with such an emotionally charged and polarised debate, there are all sorts of folks with strong views on this topic. Some gung-ho pro-vaxxers will likely hate on me for a piece like this. And some gung-ho anti-vaxxers will likely hate on me for a piece like this. Sorry, I can’t please everyone – and I don’t intend to! So if I have pushed all your hot buttons here, I advise you to take your fury elsewhere. There are far too many other places where you can preach about your pet view on this till you are blue in the face, OK?

  • “Prime Minister Scott Morrison says players who refuse to get a flu shot should be banned from competing in the NRL”.

    Well they’re already banned from nursing homes.

    There are more than just staff and family who attend nursing homes. I know some who only attend for work purposes. Should THEY give up their jobs too?

    (P.S. Some of their jobs are important as opposed to the jobs of those involved in the entertainment “industry”).

  • People were dying like flies of various diseases before vaccinations came in, so it’s obvious that the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and unless there is some medical reason why someone can’t be vaccinated , and of course that should be determined by a doctor, then I believe people should do what’s best for the community. OK your never going to get 100% agreement, but I believe this is what the vast majority would vote for!

  • This is most concerning. I think the Nuremburg Code is relevant as this is a new vaccine and is therefore medical experimentation. There will be no long term studies. Also Bill Gates has donated $10 million for Australian research. See https://tottnews.com/2020/05/07/bill-gates-australian-vaccines/ The efficacy of flu vaccines depends on a number of factors the main one being whether the right strain has been chosen. Age and immune status are other factors. Judy Mikovits states that those who get the flu vaccine are 36% more likely to get COVID19. It is certainly not a one size fits all situation as our government and many workplaces are making it out to be.

  • As always Bill, I appreciate your balanced approach. You always give me something new to think about. It is easy to fall into ditches and get unbalanced on this sort of topic for me.

    It seems to me that when it comes to putting things into your body, the person who bears the risks to their health (either from vaccines, or the illnesses they could potentially prevent) is the person best suited to making that decision.

    Of course, playing the devil’s advocate- we live in a country with a socialised medical system, where the government often incurs the monetary cost of decisions made by individuals. So I can see it from that side, even if I don’t like it. You can’t get a free hand out without the other hand reaching out too maybe, wanting something back from you.

    It seems to me that this sort of system carries risk for personal freedoms. But I sure do appreciate being able to go to the hospital when needed without coming out with a crippling bill. So I get tangled in my thinking at this point.

  • Thanks Lauren. Although as you would of course know, you are getting SOME cheapish healthcare because you and I and millions of others have paid for it through our taxes! There are always trade-offs. As but one example, my own vision had gotten so bad that I was no longer able to legally drive. I could have gotten that fixed through the public system for a cheaper cost if I waited a year or two to get one eye fixed, and then waited another year to get the other eye fixed. Instead, I coughed up over $7000 to get both eyes fixed within a few weeks in the private system. For me it was better to not go blind and pay a bit more, than the alternative.

  • Yes, that is true. (Re taxes)
    Our family also have benefited from the ability to go private when necessary and have access to that system. For which I am thankful!
    So in these sorts of cases, is there a need for continued vigilance in protecting these kind of freedoms, rather than attempting to create a system that protects freedom whilst delivering health care? After all, a perfect system does not exist. Maybe I am thinking like a utopian here. I need to read Sowell’s ‘Vision of the Anointed’.
    I am glad to hear how God preserved your sight as well.

  • Thanks again Lauren. Yes it is nice to be able to see clearly again!

    As to health care, or almost anything else, these words of Sowell are fully applicable:

    “There are three questions that will destroy most of the arguments on the Left:
    -Compared to what?
    -At what cost?
    -What hard evidence do you have?
    There are very few ideas on the left that can pass all three of those kinds of things.”

  • The problem with a mandatory vaccination program, or a mandatory cell tracking app, is it makes no allowances for exceptions. What of those who for health reasons seek to opt out?

    I have family who had their first kid not so long ago. They made it clear that any family who wanted to see junior had to have some injection or other. Most of the family were agreeable, I was not. It’s not that I’m anti-vax, I had several as a kid and for overseas, but have struggled with chronic fatigue now for many years and rightly or wrongly many CFS patients fear the effect that a vaccine may have on their already screwy systems. No I’m not suggesting any relationship between my fatigue and vaccinations. I’ve no clue on the cause, and sadly neither does my doctor. I may risk vaccines in the future, I just don’t see the need for me to rush into it unless it’s critical.

    Then there’s the ethics issues. What if a vaccine is made in some unethical fashion – using abortion materials, or slave labour, or some other egregious issue? Or what if a vaccine functions primarily to facilitate promiscuity or some other unethical conduct? And what of simple free choice? Should not we rather than the government have the right to dictate what goes into our bodies, and those of our children? As it is I believe the Australian government penalises parents who don’t vaccinate their children – depriving them of family tax benefits, and possibly more. I believe some states also ban such children from attending kindergarten and childcare centres, and may exclude\suspend such children from school any occasion where it is thought they might contract a contagious vaccine preventable disease.

    When it comes to vaccines I’m pretty much on the fence. Take them, don’t take them, it is, or should be, your choice. Of course it also depends on the vaccine in question. The more necessary any particular vaccine is, and the more likely it is to save you (or your child) from some spectacularly horrible condition, the more likely I am to not only support it but think others should choose to support it too. And what’s necessary depends where you live or where you’re travelling to. Travel overseas and you may want Hep-C and other such shots – I’m pretty sure those aren’t part of the current kiddies package the government mandates. On the other hand I’m not of fan of Gardasil which as I understand it is primarily design to negate the consequences of particular lifestyle choices.

  • I have not always agreed with the libertarian, physician, and former politician Ron Paul. But he talks some sense here:

    Vaccines can improve health. For example, vaccines helped reduce the incidence of diseases like polio. But not all vaccines are safe and effective for all people. Furthermore, certain modern practices, such as giving infants multiple vaccines at one time, may cause health problems. The fact that vaccines may benefit some people, or even most people, does not justify government forcing individuals to be vaccinated. It also does not justify vaccinating children against their parents’ wishes. And it certainly does not justify keeping individuals and families in involuntary quarantine because they do not have “digital certificates” proving they have had their shots.

    http://www.ronpaullibertyreport.com/archives/next-in-coronavirus-tyranny-forced-vaccinations-and-digital-certificates

  • Thank you once again Bill for bringing our attention to Freedoms. Vaccinations is definitely a controversial issue which I cannot say is right or wrong – I choose to live by faith, but I agree, I don’t like the govt telling us what to do in these respects but their advice can be good.
    I’m not in the medical profession but I don’t think Scott Morrison should say all rugby players should have the flu shot because it is the one who isn’t vaccinated that should worry about the flu not the players who have the flu shot – they shouldn’t be worried because if the flu shot works like it is supposed to, then they are immune.
    However, I do think people going to visit a nursing home should have the flu shot 2 weeks before hand as they could be taking the flu to the old residents who may not have very strong immune systems. This would apply for seeing a newborn child as well as I think you should have the whooping cough jab before seeing a newborn. Just like going overseas one is advised to get certain vaccinations.
    The internet says individuals and human populations display variation in response to vaccinations with key variables being genetics, prior exposure, coinfections with other pathogens and demographic factors such as age, body mass, race/ethnicity and location etc.
    I think people should pray first (to get the wisdom of Solomon) before vaccinating their children as there are so many more diseases they are vaccinated against these days eg I wasn’t vaccinated against whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, meningococcal or hepatitis but our children are supposed to be. Also, I wouldn’t vaccinate a baby or child that is unwell.

  • We all know about ‘shedding’; the ability to pass on a virus while being well ourselves – like “Typhoid Mary”! It has been shown that having a flu shot also contributes to shedding the virus. This so-called immunized person is capable of infecting others while not themselves suffering the flu. I think we don’t have to have a science degree to understand something this basic and make a responsible decision about it.

  • Thanks again Bill for the video. Those three questions are worth remembering.

  • Hi Bill. Thank you for another balanced and thought provoking article. A couple of things-For those who like to make informed decisions it is becoming increasingly difficult to be adequately informed when information is being suppressed if it doesn’t fit the narrative for the desired outcome of governments etc. Personally it gets my back up when we are coerced into having to accept something we might thoroughly disagree with – whether it is the covid 19 app, flu shots, vaccinations etc. I also feel uncomfortable, especially in a so-called democracy, when we have no real freedom of choice. For example, someone wanting to visit a loved one in a nursing home may not be able to do so without first having a flu shot. If the person has genuine concerns about doing so but wants to see their loved one they really have no choice. One young family I am aware of won’t vaccinate because they have researched exhaustively and have genuine concerns about aborted baby tissue being used in the manufacture of some vaccines or tissue or blood from animals – not to mention mercury, formaldehyde, alumina and other agents they consider harmful. They decided in the best interests of their children’s health they would not take the chance. They have (sadly but willingly) paid a price for (rightly or wrongly) having the courage of their convictions, foregoing thousands of government child support dollars over the years and being faced with the prospect that their youngest will be unable to go to playgroup, kindy etc if unvaccinated and will have to be home schooled. Their freedom of choice has come at a cost but it is one they are prepared to pay because they genuinely believe it is the best choice for their children’s health and futures. They now also know what ‘social distancing’ really is like! Whether we agree with vaccinations or not, we would be very wise not to trust vaccines developed by companies that eugenicists have involvement in or in vaccinations coming from countries with poor human rights records or which have proven to be untrustworthy in the past? It is in our best interests to thoroughly ‘search out a matter’ before carefully and prayerfully making any decisions. Keep up the good work. Your articles really make us think about things. GOD bless you Bill.

  • Gee how soon till “players who refuse to burn a pinch of incense will be banned ‘no pinch, no play'”

  • Not an anti vaxxer but I am against the hpv vaccine it seems more like giving a jab of consent to teenage sex but I think a lot of people dislike big pharma making money hand over fist then pushing to get certain vaccines mandatory, at least for school, especially ones that might be yearly because profit is most likely their motive NOT your health. If big pharma wouldn’t shutout the natural medicine and natural healing areas people might have more respect for them.

    The HPV vaccine is most worrying to me by how fast after it came to market the maker got the government to make it mandatory for school children.

    The military industrial complex isn’t the only worrisome thing too many businesses are very intimate with government. Who really is in charge in the various capitals?????

  • Paul, I believe you’re mistaken about Gardasil, Cervarix etc being mandatory for school children, at least as regards Australia – it is mandatory elsewhere. According to http://www.hpvvaccine.org.au/schools/schools-background.aspx ‘only’ around 80% of students are using the free program.

    According to the federal Department of Health (https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv) the optimal age for HPV vaccination is 12–13 years i.e. just in time for puberty and promiscuity.

  • For example, all Australian drivers must wear seatbelts, whether they want to or not. When such laws first appeared, there were plenty of folks up in arms over this. Now we all do as we were told – not so much because we all necessarily fully agree, but because of the heavy arm of the law coming into play. If we refuse to comply, fines and demerit points and so on are dished out. So state power has brought about widespread compliance.

    Also, we have a lot of on the road experience to back up all the safety claims for the use of seatbelts, and for the dangerous consequences of NOT using them. I happen to disagree with the use of airbags because of the reason for their introduction, the manner of their deployment, the risks associated with their use (we have just had a car recall to fix a potential safety problem) and the high costs involved. But they are now an additional compulsory safety feature.

    It's a lot harder to demonstrate conclusively the effectiveness of vaccinations in general because our medical situations are much more variable than our cars. However, specific diseases such as smallpox have been all but eradicated as a result of worldwide vaccination programs.

    Also, be careful about over-quoting the example of Typhoid Mary as there were more factors than just transmission involved (as we have with the 'flu and coronavirus).

  • Well Andrew I’m a yank so I can only go by the states.

    I have Mason’s on my dad’s side of the family we might be relatives.

  • Re Bill’s quote from Ron Paul.
    I can attest to that factor as our youngest son (now in his twenties) suffered a seizure at age two, within hours of a set of vaccinations which in total was too much for his system.

    We had a nightmare time in hospital emergency, followed by tests and MRI scans, without any conclusive results. As a consequence of that incident plus some inherited sensitivities, we slowed the program of vaccine administration by two cycles, so that young bodies were stronger and able to cope with what were actually doses of the infections.

  • One problem with vaccinations is over-vaccination. The jab that people are asked to get before visiting someone with a new baby is for whooping cough. This vax is 3-in one. Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). So a person is given 2 vaccines when they really want just the one.
    A newborn baby is given a hepatitis B vaccine. Why? There is no reason unless the mother has hep B. Children get so many vaccinations now and most of them are simply not necessary. So, when you start looking into vaccinations there are so many reasons to be vaccine hesitant.

  • Bill, most people are unaware that there is a well-established law of informed consent for any medical treatment or procedure in most of the civilised world (that does not include places like China).

    For example, in Australia, the law can be summed up this way: Informed consent in healthcare means you will be given understandable and clear information about your choices so you can make the right decisions about your health and healthcare…. The treatment options must be clearly explained to the patient (or parent/guardian) along with the risks and benefits.

    Any compulsory medication or treatment, including vaccination, tramples upon the principle of informed consent and personal consideration of treatment options, benefits and risks. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/informed-consent

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