In the aftermath of Nazi medical atrocities, the world affirmed the Nuremberg Code which stated that the “voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights further enshrined this prohibition against involuntary experimentation in its 1966 text, stating “no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.” Such a prohibition is now so universally recognized that some courts and scholars have pronounced the right to informed consent in experiments as a matter of customary international law.
But what about informed consent in the area of medical treatment, including preventive medical treatment? This is a controversial issue today in many countries, including the United States.
In 2005, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, addressed this issue, adopting the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights on the consensus of 193 countries.
How can we balance the rights of the collective vs. Vaccines, by their very nature, are a population-based medical intervention.
If enough people take this medical intervention, then the so-called “herd” will be protected from the circulation of a communicable disease, based on the theory of “herd immunity.” Although individuals receive vaccines, the rationale for vaccines is for the good of the individual and the society.
When the doctor-patient relationship is based on coercion, trust is a casualty, and doctors then serve the state, and by extension the society, above their individual patients. Following the medical precautionary principle, the default position for vaccination must be recommendations, not compulsion.
This is a slippery slope, where civilized medicine has too often derailed in the past. Individuals, for themselves and their minor children, should have the right to accept or refuse these preventive medical interventions based on adequate information and without coercion, such as the threat of loss of economic or educational benefits.
How many of you have ever, for any reason, been critical of the United Nations? And how many of you have ever been critical of the United States of America, for any reason? You might be branded “anti-vaccine” by the likes of the , the World Health Organization and by spokespeople from national centers for disease control and national pediatric associations.
Security Council, peacekeeper, budget issues come to mind. Your views on vaccines might be considered “outside the mainstream,” and equivalent to the views of those who deny climate change. No matter if your critique were categorical, and that you truly oppose all vaccines for all people at all times, or if you simply believe, as Bobby and I and many others do, that mercury should never be a preservative in any vaccine anywhere in the world because there are better and safer alternatives.
She reminds the United Nations that history has shown us the results of such overt government intrusion into personal medical rights.
World-wide human rights legislation has been put into place to protect individuals from government intrusion into medical abuse, starting with the Nuremberg Code just after the atrocities of Nazi Germany after World War II.
Informed consent must be the default position because compulsion, on its face, not only undermines trust, but limits the fundamental rights to life, liberty, bodily integrity, informed consent, privacy and to parental decision making.