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Flashback - Important and Timely 1962 Congressional Testimony by Clifford Miller concerning Health Freedom

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"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Important and Timely 1962 Congressional Testimony concerning Health Freedom:

A bill to assist states and communities to carry out intensive vaccination programs designed to protect their populations, especially all preschool children, against poliomyelitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, and against other diseases which may in the future become susceptible of practical elimination as a public health problem through such programs. (HR10541)

The following is taken from my original 1991 paper on philosophical exemptions:

I would like to include some of the testimony made to Congress in 1962 by Clinton R. Miller of the National Health Federation because he so eloquently framed this issue in the context of history.

 "The only time (NHF) would feel justified in violating an American's exercise of choice in matters of health would be when such exercise of freedom violated the equal right of another.  Clearly at the present time no one is denied vaccination for themselves or their children if they desire it.  Therefore, citizens who exercise their freedom of choice by choosing not to be vaccinated are not denying an equal right to another by the exercise of this freedom.

This principle of freedom is a superior and more fundamental consideration than that of vaccination.  There are those people who so stoutly believe in the principle of vaccination that their enthusiasm leads them to an intolerance of anyone who just as stoutly does not believe in it.....

Those who believe in freedom of choice in matters of politics, religion, and health, emphasize that minority views of one generation become majority views of another.  History has a wonderful lesson to teach us here if we will learn it.  History will record a man of one age as a wise man, even though subsequent research might prove his theories to be in error, if he refrained from force of any kind in sharing of his beliefs with his disciples and contemporaries.  But it will record the same man with the same theories as a fool or a tyrant, who uses, or allows to be used, force of any kind- not the least of which is governmental force - to gain acceptance for his beliefs.

Humility about the extent of one's knowledge, or of the collective knowledge of any age is always the mark of greatness, progress, and understanding....

Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Congressman is quoted as saying 'The Constitution of the Republic should make provision for medical freedom as well as for religious freedom.... All such laws’ (which restrict health choices)'are un-American and despotic. They are fragments of monarchy and have no place in a Republic'.

.... We maintain that this right was implied, if not written.... But the fact is that it was not written, and we are left to argue that it was certainly implied.  At the time Benjamin Rush made this plea, it was argued that this 'right' was assumed by the guaranteed freedom of religion and didn't need to be codified.  ...Incidentally, Dr. Rush was a strong believer in vaccination theories of Jenner, but emphasized the greater need for freedom in all health matters." (Excerpted from hearings before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, 87th Congress, Second Session on H.R. 10541.  Conducted May 15 and 16, 1962).

Sandy Gottstein

Date: 6-21-2002