Anti-Terror Bill Unconstitutional
"Protecting the health and informed consent rights of children since 1982."
for immediate release
February 4, 2005
NATIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION CENTER CALLS
"ANTI-TERROR" BILL "UNCONSTITUTIONAL"
Washington, D.C. - The nation's largest and oldest consumer-led vaccine safety organization, the National Vaccine Information Center, is calling a bill introduced into Congress by Senators Gregg and Frist entitled "Protecting America in the War on Terror Act of 2005" (S.3) an "assault on the Constitution" and a serious threat to protecting the health and informed consent rights of those who use federally regulated vaccines and drugs.
"This bill is labeled as an "anti-terror" bill," said NVIC president and co-founder, Barbara Loe Fisher, "but it is power grab by the federal government and an assault on self-governance and the informed consent ethic. It takes away the freedom of the people to make their voices heard through their elected state representatives and protect themselves from unsafe drugs, such as Celebrex and Vioxx, and unsafe vaccines, such as those that contain high levels of mercury. It gives unprecedented liability protection to the drug industry and broad powers to federal officials to hide the truth from the people about vaccine and prescription drug risks."
The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution specifies that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Protecting the public health was not delegated to the federal government and public health laws, including laws governing use of vaccines, have always been under the control of citizens residing in each state.
Of major concern to vaccine safety advocates, are the following provisions in S.3:
* Eliminates a state's right to more strictly regulate vaccines and drugs and more fully inform their citizens about vaccine and drug risks than does the federal government. Laws already passed in California and Iowa limiting mercury content in vaccines would be repealed.
* Gives comprehensive liability protections to drug companies. Eliminates a citizen's right to seek justice in state courts for drug and vaccine injuries and deaths and limits awards in federal courts. Gives tax credits, grants and patent extensions to the drug industry.
*Allows the Department of Health and Department of Justice, the defendants in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, to write the terms of their own defense in order to further limit awards to vaccine injured children.
* Creates and funds a mandatory, national electronic tracking system operated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to monitor vital records of citizens relating to both notifiable and non-notifiable diseases and "new trends" and "patterns in public health." Creates penalties for states and health care providers not reporting in a "timely manner" to the national tracking system. There are no provisions for mandatory reporting of serious health problems following vaccine and prescription drug use or punishments for not reporting serious side effects.
S. 3 is being promoted by sponsors as a military veteran benefit bill because it raises the death benefits and other financial support for the families of soldiers who lost their lives in the war in Iraq.
"The irony of this bill is that it is using the families of citizens who have given their lives to defend our nation's freedom in order to take rights and freedoms away from other families. Military veterans should not be used to protect the drug industry and take away the freedom for all Americans to have their voices heard through their elected state representatives," said Fisher. "In his Inaugural speech, President Bush said 'there is no justice without freedom.' This bill does not serve justice or freedom."
The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is a national, non-profit organization founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children. NVIC worked with Congress on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and has worked with families in states to protect informed consent rights, including the right to have full and accurate information on vaccine benefits and risks prior to vaccination and make informed, voluntary vaccine decisions. NVIC worked with families in California on the Mercury Free Act of 2004, which limited the amount of mercury in vaccines sold in that state.