Senate Republicans invited an anti-vaxxer to speak as the lead witness before a Homeland Security committee hearing on Tuesday, as the nation readies its largest-ever vaccination campaign to fight COVID-19.
Dr. Jane M. Orient is an odd choice here, as federal health officials try to promote a vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic. Why would the GOP Senators promote anti-vaccine disinformation right now in America?
Excerpt from Sheryl Gay Stolberg's reporting at the New York Times:
Dr. Jane M. Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a group that opposes government involvement in medicine and views federal vaccine mandates as a violation of human rights.
"A public health threat is the rationale for the policy on mandatory vaccines. But how much of a threat is required to justify forcing people to accept government-imposed risks?" Dr. Orient wrote in a statement to the Senate last year, calling vaccine mandates "a serious intrusion into individual liberty, autonomy and parental decisions."
In a phone interview on Sunday, Dr. Orient, an internist who received her medical degree from Columbia University in New York, resisted being cast as an "anti-vaxxer" and said she would not get a coronavirus vaccine because she had an autoimmune condition. She added that she opposed the government's push for all Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, noting that both vaccine candidates — one made by the Pfizer and the other by Moderna — use a new scientific method.
"It seems to me reckless to be pushing people to take risks when you don't know what the risks are," Dr. Orient said, adding: "People's rights should be respected. Where is 'my body, my choice' when it comes to this?"
More at the New York Times.