On January 30th this year Radio National Breakfast aired a lively discussion between Professor John Dwyer, co-founder of the newly formed Friends of Science in Medicine and Professor Kerryn Phelps, President of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association and prior AMA head.
As it so happened the AVN were delighted with the interview, discussing it on February 3rd. They immediately set to work sculpting an armour for Dr. Phelps to wear into battle for “Health Freedom”. The AVN had no doubt. If you support alternatives you would never vaccinate, their president reasoned.
In answer to an anti-medicine anecdote, Meryl Dorey commented at the time:
It just shows you [redacted], that people will pay for health but you can’t give them sickness for free no matter how hard you try. Doctors hate the competition. They know that people like yourself have left mainstream medicine because you have found something that works better. But that can’t be allowed so the scientocracy that we live in will try to control the situation so you no longer have the choice. This is what we are fighting against and it has to be all of us – healthcare consumers and healthcare organisations. If you use a natural health practitioner, get in touch with them and ask them to find out what their national organisations (CAA, ATMS, etc) is doing about this situation. It’s not the time to sit on their hands and hope it goes away. It’s time to fight!
The day Dr. Phelps and Dwyer were on air Dorey published on healthcare choice, falsely accusing FSM of seeking to shut down alternatives to medicine and drive consumers into the prison of her imagined Scientocracy. I didn’t expect to revisit this article so shortly. Nonetheless… In what may be mistaken for a description of Mordor under the whip of Sauron she began:
There is an organisation in Australia which hates every natural therapy. They hate the healthcare practitioners and they hate the healthcare consumers who ‘turn their backs’ on Western medicine in favour of a range of other modalities which put no money in their pockets and take away their prestige. Worst of all, they hate anyone who chooses not to use vaccines! That is the ultimate heresy, as far as they are concerned.
But it’s OK – because they have a plan and they have the money and media backing, they think, to bring this plan to fruition. This group, the Australian Skeptics, has been instrumental in setting up the organisation, Stop the AVN.
Now, they are working on a new initiative – and this one is more ambitious then just stopping a small, parent-run community support group. Now, their goal is to stop anyone in Australia (today Australia – tomorrow the world as far as this bunch of ratbags is concerned) from learning about or using natural therapies. Their mad campaign is getting plenty of publicity too!
They have just set up a new front group called Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) which is behind the new effort to outlaw the teaching of any natural medicine course in University. This organisation ultimately wants to shut down homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, herbalism, ayurvedic therapies and on and on. In their unspeakable arrogance, they claim that there is no evidence for therapies which have been used safely and effectively, in many cases, for thousands of years. Instead, they say, we should all be forced to exclusively rely on mainstream medicine with its dreadful record of poor safety and effectiveness!
By February 17th, Dorey was using Kerryn Phelps as a proxy figurehead for this nonsense. As someone who uses the term “alternatives to medicine” and cringes at the “integrative” semantics, I don’t agree with Dr. Phelps on many non conventional medical issues. Yet Dr. Phelps’ Uclinic is unmistakably professional. Was Dorey serious or just ripping off Dr. Phelps’ image? Was a prior head of the AMA honestly backing Dorey’s new attack on FSM? On conventional medicine? On vaccination?
I tweeted, and seven minutes later received an honest, slightly baffled reply:
Oops. Rather tactless of me. But, as Meryl had written on February 8th:
Excellent observation. It continued to come true.
Predictably, Meryl Dorey had forged a fiction around Dr. Phelps’ role as President of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association. It must have chafed somewhat to be reminded Dr. Phelps is a GP, supporter of vaccines, proponent of necessary vaccination rates and “diametrically opposed” to the activities of the AVN.
A close follower of the #StopAVN tag, this must have shattered Meryl’s very black and white world view of health care and practice. One is either against the evil of medicine or a skeptic and actively involved in a plot to enslave humanity to illness. At least that’s the battle cry we see in place of actual evidence to challenge evidence based medicine.
Could it possibly get any worse for Dorey? Dr. Phelps wouldn’t retweet anything from strident Dorey critic, that nasty Mia Freedman would she?
Poor Meryl has to absorb someone with extensive experience could be a GP, proponent of non conventional medicine and conventional medicine, opposed utterly to the AVN whilst actively supporting and promoting vaccination. Still Dorey peddles homeoprophylaxis and is fanatical about the long dead association between autism and vaccination.
Last night Dr. Phelps happened to tweet in conversation:
@Havenr64 is convinced vaccines do cause autism and took umbrage to an article Dr. Phelps had written in Medical Observer ♣. Entitled It’s time we objected to conscientious objectors, it is a splendid article with excellent timing. Most importantly however is that Kerryn Phelps is a real doctor, with actual research and a life time of genuine experience backing her.
Health consumers who are cautious of conventional medicine or interested in “alternatives” would do far better to seek similarly well balanced advice. Those questioning vaccination, and not trusting their GP, would also benefit enormously from seeking advice through the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association.
The last person to trust is Meryl Dorey or her Australian Vaccination Network. Dorey profits from ensuring you will not trust vaccination. In truth your “health freedom” or choice is abused from the moment you make contact. If you believe the path to making sound choices on vaccination is to donate money to fund a “fight” between imagined forces, you have been conned handsomely.
Nicola Roxon and Jenny Macklin announced the Stronger Immunisation Incentives last November. It was a poor read of the antivaccination movement. Dorey seized immediately upon the option of conscientious objection not being promoted as the primary variable by the government. Claiming details weren’t present at all in Roxon’s announcement, they were actually prominent in the centre of the text. Still, today Dorey has exhaustively promoted how to receive the immunisation incentive without having children immunised.
Kerryn Phelps writes:
HOW far are you prepared to go to engage with so-called “conscientious objectors” to childhood immunisation?
Everyone has a line they will not cross. The line for informed consent gets very blurry when it comes to the proxy consent provided by parents on behalf of their children. […]
As GPs we are convinced of the merits of immunisation against the vaccine-preventable infectious diseases that were so feared by previous generations who did not have the benefit of effective treatments or prevention. […]
I hesitate to even mention groups such as the Australian (Anti-)Vaccination Network.., but… I feel I can mention the harm they are doing to public health with their misinformation campaign aimed at scaring parents away from immunisation.
Parents have been encouraged through various government incentives to have their children fully immunised before starting school.
However, from 1 July the system changes. The PIP incentive for doctors has been scrapped and parents will need to document that they have fully vaccinated their child in order to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement of $726.35 per child. […]
If parents want to claim the money, they have to demonstrate that their child is fully immunised, or have their doctor complete documentation that they are a conscientious objector.
One of my colleagues told me last week that she intends to be a conscientious objector to conscientious objectors. I must say the idea appeals to me.
When parents request that she fills in the government form indicating the child is exempt on the basis of parents being conscientious objectors, she will politely indicate that is against her principles and advice, and will refuse to provide the documentation. […]
It is a convincing argument. Ethically doctors wish to support their patients’ choices. Yet with vaccination, rejection of this nature is not a choice, but a clear mistake. A cursory grasp of the manipulation at play to scare parents off vaccinating their children is alarming. An understanding of the entire abusive scam should be regarded with concern and disgust.
Presently parents are objecting because many feel there is this attack on their freedom of choice. A read of Dorey’s material finds the same theme over and again. Forces seek to control. Why is the default position vaccination? You are being told what to do. Health fascism. Loss of health choices… etc. It’s an appeal to emotion, not intellect. Vaccination is cast as a mockery of individuality, of democratic freedom.
Fortunately Dr. Phelps is a voice of reason at a time when false dichotomies are used to fool those who seek more natural choices, to also fear vaccination. A wedge has been driven into Meryl Dorey’s fictional scheme. No longer is it simply “us and them” as her members pay dearly to hear. False balance need no longer be the only choice.
This isn’t unique. Most natural therapy organisations recommend conventional vaccination. Chiropractic and homeopathy are two that mislead clients about vaccination. What we certainly lack is a public voice bridging the unnecessary gulf between vaccination and non conventional medicine. It is certainly time to detach the choice of alternative medicine from refusal to vaccinate.
I for one am very grateful to Dr. Phelps for making her views known.
– ♣ Subscription to Medical Observer is free.