As measles cases continue to increase across the United States, public health advocates have taken a critical look at state policies that allow parents to easily avoid vaccinating their children. The Food and Drug Administration has even warned that it could try to act if the virus continues to spread.
Facing this event, the representative of Arizona, Kelly Townsend (R), went on Facebook Thursday, lamenting not the transmission of a totally preventable disease, but communism, for a reason.
"Dear friends and people of Arizona, it seems that we are ready to give up our freedom, the very sovereignty of our body, because of measles," wrote the legislator to five terms.
"I read yesterday that the idea was that if not enough people get vaccinated, then we will force them to do it," she continued. "The idea of forcing one to give up one's freedom on behalf of the collective is not based on American values, but rather on communism."
Townsend's belief that vaccines are harmful – an assertion repeatedly denied by researchers – stems from the undisclosed health problems of her 22-year-old daughter, according to the Washington Post. The legislator blames the vaccines that she administered to her daughter at 10 months.
Townsend concluded his statement with a few paragraphs on "fundamental principles" before concluding with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up the essential freedom to buy a little temporary security deserve neither freedom nor security."
The irony of this quote, which refers to a tax dispute, is that Franklin was a strong advocate for vaccinating children. After the death of his son, he even teamed up with a London doctor to write an instruction manual on smallpox vaccination.
The current measles outbreak particularly affects the areas of New York, Washington State, Texas and Oregon where groups of unimmunized people are found.
Although all states allow vaccine exemptions for medical reasons, some also allow parents to ignore them for religious or philosophical reasons.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb lamented such policies in February, telling Axios: "This is a preventable tragedy."
"Too many states have lax laws," he added.
The original state of Townsend has abandoned a vaccine education program for parents late last year after the protests of those who do not vaccinate.
But this week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) threatened to veto legislation being considered in the state that would create a religious exemption from the required vaccines.
"I am anti-measles," said Ducey.