Not vaccinating is simply not a conscientious objection

leunig antivaxMicheal Leunig has published a couple of cartoons over the last months which appear to support not vaccinating children.

His position is that he has no position on vaccination, but he supports parents rights not to be told what to do by the government. This in response to government moves to restrict access to childcare centres for unvaccinated children. As his spokesman told Mama Mia:

Michael Leunig is in support of the right of individuals to conscientiously refuse vaccination for their children. This support does not necessarily indicate his position on vaccination per se, it is primarily a human rights issue that he addresses in his cartoons.

This is a classic example of poor argument. There simply isn’t a conscientious reason to refuse vaccination. Sure people have reasons but they are universally poorly researched and understood and, and this is the important bit, lead to awful consequences for others. Vaccination is simply not just about the individual – it is a case where an individual’s right to choose must be subjugated to society’s right to be safe. We don’t let people choose whether to observe the speed limit or whether it’s OK to shoot people – so why should individuals get to choose to put everyone at risk of the consequences of some pretty awful diseases.

The conscientious position here is to do what is best for everyone. It is not to put your own child before others – especially when your decision is based on a hodge-podge of myth, speculation and misunderstanding.

Leunig ought to do his next cartoon on the consequences of an unvaccinated new-born cathing measles or chickenpox.

One thought on “Not vaccinating is simply not a conscientious objection

  • August 20, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    I find the flaw is the government isn’t *forcing* any one to vaccinate. No one’s holding anyone down. Everyone has a free choice. But choices are rarely consequence free, and the consequence in this case, exclusion from child care seems tobe eminently proportionate, and flow naturally from the choice made.


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