Jenny McCarthy Says She's Not Anti-Vaccine

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Jenny McCarthy, it turns out, is not an anti-vaccine crusader after all. Wait, what?

On Saturday, The View co-host felt compelled to write an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, titled "The grey area on vaccines," in which she claimed that some vaccines, on a certain schedule, might not be so bad after all.

Funny thing is, McCarthy has a long history of painting the vaccine debate as black and white. For her, parents are either brainwashed by Big Pharma and the doctors it subsidizes, or they question established medical science and explore, as McCarthy has, potentially dangerous autism treatments like chelation therapy. She asserts in her op-ed, "For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, 'pro-vaccine' and for years I have been wrongly branded as 'anti-vaccine.'"

This is not strictly true, as TIME science editor Jeffrey Kluger points out. He takes McCarthy's "whitewashing," as he calls it, a little bit personally, especially because McCarthy name-checks him in her op-ed.

"If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f*cking measles," she said in an interview with Kluger in 2009. Earlier this year, McCarthy criticized those in the media who falsely claimed her son is not, in fact, autistic.

"Yes," wrote Kluger on Saturday, "and if you ask people whether they’d prefer witches to be burned at the stake or their community to be demonically possessed, they’ll stand in line for the witch burnings too. But they don’t have to make that choice because witchcraft is make-believe, as is your anti-vaccine nonsense."

Phil Plait at Slate points out that McCarthy can spin whatever sophistry suits her purpose, but that by asserting that vaccines contain toxins — no, not the Botox she claims to love — she is, in fact, anti-vaccine.

Nevermind that there is overwhelming evidence and decades of data supporting the general safety and efficacy of routine vaccines. Nevermind that the research that originally linked autism to vaccination was debunked and discredited. Nevermind that the scientific community, whose job it is to study such matters, has routinely warned that not vaccinating children is dangerous and threatens public health.

Astute readers will notice that McCarthy doesn't mention autism once in her op-ed, nor does she directly cite any research connecting vaccination to significant health risks. Nor does she say, as she once did in a 2009 interview, "I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe."

No. Instead, she says, "I’ve never told anyone to not vaccinate." Maybe she never said those exact words in that exact order, but it's pretty clear what she's been saying all along. (TIME)