Dena Churchill, a former doctor of chiropractic from Nova Scotia, Canada, is one of the latest examples of a health professional being targeted for daring to share anything other than the standard medical advice about vaccinations. The Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors began an investigation into Churchill in 2018 due to what the college deemed to be her “anti-vaccination” views, which she shared on her blog, DrSexyMom (now titled Health Truth), and Facebook page.
The investigation culminated in charges of professional misconduct, and resulted in Churchill losing her chiropractic license and agreeing to pay a $100,000 fine as part of a settlement agreement with the college.
“Now that I have surrendered the regulated hat of my chiropractic license, I am able to share this information freely,” Churchill writes on her blog.1 However, the fact remains that persecuting people for promoting the legal right to make informed, voluntary vaccination decisions has become far too common.
Stripped of license, fined $100k for ‘anti-vaccine’ posts
The Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors began an investigation into Churchill after she posted vaccine information on social media and her blog. The registrar of the college asked Churchill to remove a number of the vaccine-related posts from her social media sites in May 2018, but Churchill did not do it.2
The investigation continued and the College ruled that, “Dr. Churchill’s conduct brought the profession of chiropractic into disrepute,” citing national chiropractic association guidelines stating that chiropractors may not publicly discuss vaccines. As part of a settlement reached in January 2019, Churchill surrendered her license and admitted she was “professionally incompetent as a result of incompetence arising out of mental incapacity.”3,4
The Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors originally wanted Churchill to pay all of their costs related to the investigation, which they cited as $178,831.34, but later agreed on $100,000, payable over 10 years. If at least $30,000 of the settlement is not paid by January 2, 2022, the remaining amount must be paid immediately. “Dr. Churchill has shown no remorse. There is genuine concern that she is ungovernable,” the hearing committee wrote.5
However, in an interview with CBC News, Churchill said she felt “assaulted” by the attack on her personal views, stating, “I didn’t want to take [the posts] down … This whole issue is not about what I was doing in my practice or what I was promoting in my practice … I was reprimanded on my own personal views and wanting to share it with the people I love.”6
The hearing committee stated that the situation could have been avoided if Churchill had obeyed the college’s directive to delete the social media posts in question, but the committee also said they were “particularly aware of the relevance of deterrence, particularly in light of the prolific social media posting of views harmful to the public.”7
As for the charges of “professional misconduct,” Churchill said in the interview that “was a fancy word for will not obey a command and keep quiet” and added:8
“It was the college, and the investigative committee and the psychologist of the investigative committee that felt my ideas were delusional and that it could affect my clinical competence … These weren’t complaints that were brought forward by my patients.
… To have to give up my practice and sell my family home, it was stressful for me and it was a life-changing decision that I had to make at that point. And I don’t feel that my ideas are delusional.”
Vaccine reactions dubbed exaggerations
Censorship and name-calling are becoming more common in public conversations about vaccination, with those advocating for vaccine choice and safety often being belittled and outright bullied. In February 2019, for instance, an article published in The Hill went so far as to accuse people describing the vaccine reactions and injuries they suffered as “exaggerated personal anecdotes”:9
“[W]hat can be done about the growing amount of harmful misinformation intended to influence thousands of people to make decisions that put not only their lives, but the lives of their and others’ children, at risk?
Such is the situation for the anti-vaccination, or ‘anti-vax,’ community, thousands of whose members flock to social media pages where they promptly remove ‘pro-vax trolls,’ and post fear-mongering memes and exaggerated personal anecdotes.”
It’s getting to the point where attempting to have a conversation about vaccine safety can easily get you labeled as “delusional” or, if you work in the health care field, can make you a target for professional licensing boards.
Professional licensing boards ensure that “standard practice” is maintained — even when one-size-fits-all “standard of care” practice goes against a doctor’s professional judgment when the doctor has concluded the medical intervention places an individual patient at high risk for injury or death.
Doctors targeted for opening conversations about vaccines
It’s not unusual for doctors to be harassed if they publically express an opinion about vaccinations that runs contrary to the status quo.
For example, in 2017, Dr. Daniel Neides, then the medical director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, was fired after publishing an article in which he questioned the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, after experiencing aches and “feeling miserable” just 12 hours after he received a flu shot.10
After an uproar ensued, Neides publically apologized for the article, stating that he only wanted to open a conversation about vaccine safety.11 Nonetheless, he was relieved of his administrative title and, after his contract expired, he opened a self-funded functional medicine and wellness practice.12
Gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield is perhaps the most well known case of a doctor being demonized and targeted for professional ruin for conducting research into and speaking publicly about the need for more research into vaccine safety.
You may have heard about a peer-reviewed paper published in 1998 in The Lancet by Wakefield and 12 colleagues, who presented evidence for, and simply called for more research on, a potential association between the development of autism and inflammatory bowel disease in some previously healthy children who had received MMR vaccinations.
That simple call for more research into a potential vaccine-autism connection was enough to bring the wrath of the medical establishment down on their heads and, eventually, the medical licensing board in the U.K. stripped Wakefield of his license to practice medicine.
Subsequently, The Lancet withdrew the study from the medical literature and the mainstream media made Wakefield a symbol for a horrible warning to any other doctor who investigates a vaccine safety issue and publishes a finding that challenges established medical policy.
The popular narrative today is that Wakefield’s study was a fraud and that the hypothetical association between vaccines and autism has since been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. It sounds definitive enough.
“The science is settled and vaccines do not cause autism,” is a mantra often repeated as an irrefutable fact by the medical establishment. Most people don’t know that Wakefield and the 12 other co-authors of the paper did not actually perform a study to ascertain whether the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine does or does not cause autism.
In the relentless persecution of Andrew Wakefield, the fact that he and his colleagues never stated in the paper that MMR vaccine causes autism has been totally lost. All that remains is a steady stream of vicious personal attacks on a doctor who still stands by his right — and duty — to scientifically investigate and report on a clinical observation, which is what medical scientists are supposed to do.
The film “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” directed by Wakefield, goes into more detail about reports of children who were healthy and then regressed into autism after MMR shots. A central part of the story line in the film centers on William Thompson, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the U.S. CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases (NCIR), who confessed that he conspired with colleagues to cover up links found between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Yet, the crusade against open conversations about vaccines continues. Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), explained:13
“The extraordinary efforts by industry, medical trade and government to delegitimize free speech about vaccination unless it conforms with government policy has given a green light to corporate-owned mainline media outlets to use name calling and other yellow journalism techniques to legitimize the stripping of civil liberties from public health laws.
Today, any parent, doctor, research scientist, journalist, celebrity, politician, philanthropist or non-governmental organization asking questions about the quality of vaccine science or the ethics of laws requiring use of a liability-free pharmaceutical product that can harm or fail to work, is immediately labeled as an “anti-vaxxer” and publicly defamed, humiliated, discredited and relentlessly targeted for personal and professional ruin.”
‘Vaccine hesitancy’ ranked a top threat to global health
In its report, “Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019,” the World Health Organization included vaccine hesitancy, alongside health risks like air pollution, noncommunicable diseases, ebola and antimicrobial resistance.14
Media headlines, rather than pointing out the absence of the opioid epidemic or medical errors — which have been cited as the third leading cause of death in the U.S.15 — on WHO’s list, homed in on vaccine hesitancy. Fisher noted:16
“Throughout history, the greatest contributors to disease and early death in human populations have been poverty, poor sanitation and poor nutrition, but infectious diseases with pharmaceutical solutions dominated this list.
… The immediate mainstream media response to the WHO’s announcement was to focus on ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ with The Editorial Board of The New York Times declaring January 19 that ‘anti-vaxxers’ are ‘the enemy’ and calling on the U.S. government to ‘get tough’ by waging a ‘bold and aggressive’ pro-vaccine campaign that includes ‘tightening restrictions around how much leeway states can grant families that want to skip essential vaccines.’”
Vaccine censorship is increasing
An assault on your freedom to access to health information, and the blatant application of censorship to public conversations about vaccination and health is a growing trend, one that’s been furthered by Amazon, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, which have blocked, pulled or disabled content deemed to be “anti-vaccination.”17
Paying customers, including organizations that had contracted with Mailchimp to send health information to people who had voluntarily opted in to receive the emailed information, were suddenly cut off, with no warning.18 It may or may not be a coincidence that the CDC Foundation includes MailChimp on its list of donors and corporate “partners.”19
“Whether you do or do not agree that every liability free vaccine product sold by pharmaceutical companies is safe and effective, or that federal vaccine policy is anchored with sound science, or that mandatory vaccination laws without informed consent protections are moral, you should take a hard look at recent actions by government officials and corporations to censor and repeal civil liberties that safeguard your human right to autonomy and protection of bodily integrity,” Fisher says.20
Nearly half of adults doubt vaccine safety
The ability to make informed, voluntary vaccine choices for yourself and your children must be protected, because vaccines are not a one-size-fits-all-solution, nor is the U.S. public as a whole a one-size-fits-all population. Even as government and media attempt to censor and shut down conversations about vaccine risks versus benefits, Americans continue to question vaccine safety.
In an online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, 45% said they had such doubts about vaccines, with past secrets and wrongdoing by the pharmaceutical industry and information from medical experts noted as top reasons why.21
The U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) revealed that, since 1988, approximately $4.1 billion has been paid out in compensation to victims of vaccine injury,22 and we need to know why vaccine injuries are occurring and whether certain populations are more vulnerable than others.
At the same time, Churchill’s case is yet another example of the lengths that some academic institutions will go to in order to silence those who question vaccination. If you’re in the health care field, the stakes may be higher, but the truth is that anyone may be affected.
“Anyone who defends the informed consent ethic and criticizes the use of coercion to force compliance with one-size-fits all vaccine policies is called an “anti-vaxxer” and subjected to personal attacks on his or her intelligence, integrity, motives and patriotism in the name of protecting the public health,”23 Fisher says — which is precisely why taking action to protect your legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccination and obtain vaccine exemptions without being sanctioned is more important now than ever.
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