By Jane M. Orient, M.D.
An exemption is something people get from military service or jury duty—a civil obligation that serves the common good, that is, the good of everyone.
Everyone benefits when the country is secure from a hostile invasion, and from having a guaranteed right to trial by jury. Not everyone is fit to serve, and some have more important obligations, or conscientious objections. Therefore, we allow for exemptions even though people have a civic duty to participate in essential functions if they can.
But for medical treatments, the person prescribing the treatment must get permission. Operating on a person, injecting him, or even touching him without permission is assault and battery, except when there is a life-threatening emergency or an imminent danger to others. One does not need an exemption to forgo a medical treatment. One simply declines to get it.
Except with mandated vaccines.
Even if theoretically allowed, vaccine exemptions may be impossible to obtain. In some schools or enterprises, virtually all medical exemptions are denied. The person may have to present documentation of an almost fatal reaction to previously receiving a component of the vaccine. Many doctors refuse to help because of realistic fear of being delicensed if they support “too many” or “inappropriate” exemptions.
It may be easier to get a religious exemption, but one may have to prove the validity or sincerity of one’s faith. Who has the legitimate authority to judge that?
This situation is backwards. For a prescription drug or for many lab tests, you must have a physician’s order. The doctor is legally obliged to have a patient-physician relationship with you and to be responsible for side effects or for following up on test results. But who is ordering your COVID jab or your COVID test? Is that person qualified to be your doctor? Even if he is, you are under no obligation to follow your physician’s advice, and patients frequently don’t.
Who gave officials or employers or pharmacies an exemption from getting a physician’s order?
I remember the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when it was difficult to get a test done. You had to be sure the patient understood the ramifications of a positive test and signed a special form. You couldn’t do one to find out whether a nurse who got a needlestick injury had been exposed to AIDS, or whether special precautions were needed to protect caregivers. Today, people who choose to be tested are not required to divulge the results.
Drug cocktails for AIDS have turned HIV infection into a chronic disease rather than a rapidly fatal one, but an infected person may still be able to transmit the disease for life. Pre- or post-exposure drug prophylaxis is available for those who engage in high-risk behavior, but using these drugs is purely voluntary.
What a contrast to vaccines!
We no longer treat persons with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) like lepers. (Fortunately, it is now curable and not very contagious.) We do, however, treat incompletely vaccinated children like lepers, excluding them from school or social activities. Unlike HIV disease or untreated Hansen’s disease, the “vaccine preventable” childhood diseases are contagious for only a few days in a child’s entire life, and most are usually mild. You cannot get measles or other disease from a child who does not currently have it. After recovery, the child has better immunity than a vaccinated child.
We draft unwilling persons into vaccination for the “common good”—to protect the hypothetical immunocompromised child who can’t be vaccinated, just in case there’s a disease outbreak, and that child might get infected by an unvaccinated child rather than by a vaccinated person whose immunity wore off. Instead of shielding the vulnerable, we force everyone to take a nonzero risk of a serious or even fatal adverse reaction that they believe offers them no compensating benefit. An unvaccinated but healthy person is not an imminent danger.
Government has exempted itself from the Constitution, and physicians have exempted themselves from the Oath of Hippocrates.
It’s time for citizens and patients to deny these self-conferred exemptions and to assert their right to grant or withhold permission for medical treatment, according to their own values and risk:benefit assessment.
Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf’s Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf’s Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Jane Orient:, AAPS, 1601 N. Tucson Blvd. #9 Tucson, AZ 85716, Tucson, AZ 85716
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal