Marianne Williamson, one of the Democratic presidential candidates and self-help author and guru, injected talk of vaccine skepticism into the debate, questioning whether the government has any right to tell people what they must do with their children and with their own bodies in reference to vaccinations.
In an event in New Hampshire, Jezebel reports that Williamson compared mandatory vaccinations to the anti-abortion legislation.
"The U.S. government doesn't tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child."But the following day, the candidate released a statement saying that while she retains a skeptical view of the pharmaceutical industry, she wanted to make it clear that she wasn't questioning the validity of vaccines.
On The View, co-host Meghan McCain questioned Williamson about the current measles outbreak, and the public health necessity of vaccinating everyone who can be inoculated so that those who are undergoing chemotherapy could avoid being exposed to the preventable diseases.
Williamson responded that big pharma, the CDC, and the FDA are so cozy it's natural to have concerns, but she isn't anti-science. McCain asked if that meant that now she was OK with mandatory vaccinations.
Williamson said she had not changed her views.
"If I were president of the United States — when I'm president of the United States — there would be a commission of scientists learning so that the American people see what's going on with these vaccines who are not paid by big pharma."Sunny Hostin asked once again whether Williamson supports mandatory vaccinations, and she answered that she is concerned that it infringes on individual freedoms.
"I do not trust the propaganda on either side."The Cut says that when Williamson told the crowd in New Hampshire that the mandatory vaccinations were "draconian" and "Orwellian," she is aligning herself with anti-Vaxxers whether she intended to or not. Williamson's wording sounded similar to that of actor Jessica Biel who is opposing the California law that requires vaccinations along with politician Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Paul Offit, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who specializes in infectious diseases and vaccines,says that it's irresponsible for people like Williamson and Biel to spread misinformation to scare parents out of vaccinating their children.
"But there are those who are underinformed, and then there are those like Biel and Williamson, whose remarks are complicit in spreading misinformation."He adds that those people might not claim to be anti-vaxxers, but they are vaccine conspiracy theorists.