Autism Speaks pushes the “legislative history” myth about the Combating Autism Act

11 Nov

Autism Speaks has announced (possibly incorrectly) that the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) has included vaccine language in the Strategic Plan.

Autism Speaks has posted their statement on their website.

Here is the statement (from their press release):

In enacting the Combating Autism Act (CAA), Congress intended that the federal government examine potential links between vaccines and autism. During the Senate debate over the CAA, Mike Enzi, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, instructed that “no research avenue should be eliminated, including biomedical research examining potential links between vaccines, vaccine components, and autism spectrum disorder.” 152 Cong. Rec. S8772 (Aug. 3, 2006). In the House, Joe Barton, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was equally clear: “[T]he legislation rightfully calls for renewed efforts to study all possible causes of autism – including vaccines and other environmental causes… The important thing to understand is that there are no preconceived notions contained in this bill; the bill language is clear that we should follow every avenue that science opens to us in searching for a cure.” 152 Cong. Rec. H8787 (Dec. 6, 2006)

Beyond this clear directive of the CAA, Autism Speaks supports rigorous, evidence-based scientific research onto all aspects of autism from potential causes, including both genetic and environmental factors, to diagnosis and treatments. As such, we strongly urge that further vaccine safety research be included in the Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research. Comprehensive “good” science should be the standard in all areas studied and there are aspects of vaccine safety research that have not yet been, and should be, considered.

It is also essential that all scientific research recommended by IACC and funded by the NIH be rigorous and evidence-based to engender the trust of the scientific, medical and entire autism community. Without a solid foundation that supports confidence in scientific conclusion, the entire portfolio of scientific research is at risk of losing community trust. Further, vaccine safety research will increase both the level of confidence in the safety of our nation’s vaccine program and the rate of participation, which is absolutely crucial for the prevention of serious infectious diseases.

Autism Speaks calls on the IACC to consider the importance of evidence-based science, trust, and to remain true to the critical legislative purpose of the Combating Autism Act and asks the IACC to include vaccine safety research in the strategic plan.

The statement that vaccine research is a “clear directive of the CAA” is, simply, false.

The CAA (Combating Autism Act) does not include the statements by congressman Barton and Senator Enzi are part of the congressional record. They are statements made by the individual legislators.

They are not a part of the Combating Autism Act, much less a clear directive of the Act.

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