I went to Augusta last week to hear and to testify at a hearing on bill LD 798: “An Act to Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirement” (also known as “Forced Vaccination”.) This bill, if passed, would not allow thousands of unvaccinated children to attend school.

I found myself enveloped by over 200 other Mainers who came from all over the state to testify. It started at 1 p.m. I wasn’t called until 7 and they were only halfway through the people allowed 3 minutes each. It went on until after 2 a.m.

The committee room in the Cross building behind the Capitol quickly filled and three or four “overflow rooms” with loudspeakers were quickly allocated to handle the crowd. I ended up first in an extra room back in the Capitol. As the day wore on, and speaker after speaker gave their thoughts, pro or con, it became apparent that the majority were not there to protest vaccinations but, as many professional organizations in the country, to advocate for “Freedom of Choice.”

For example: “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons” wrote in a paper (titled: No Rigorous Safety Studies) “The AAPS is a pro-vaccine organization, yet the AAPS still respects the foundational concept of informed consent. While nearly everybody else in the medical system … seeks to inject people with hazardous substances against their will, the AAPS reminds us that there are still some thoughtful individuals in the pro-vaccine camp who embrace the importance of public education and freedom of choice.”

As the day wore on and people on both sides of the fence went to the microphone, there were tears in the eyes of the listeners many times as parent after parent told their heart-wrenching accounts of how their preciously healthy children were harmed, irreparably, by vaccines, particularly with the current practice of multiple and early vaccines. There are over 40 now and dozens more reportedly in the pipeline.

One mother’s tears were running down her cheeks, while those in the overflow rooms also wept, as she testified that the last place she wanted to be was there that day — the day she wanted to be at her daughter's graveside as it was the anniversary of her death from vaccine-induced illness.

Parent after parent testified that, should they be forced to vaccinate and their children not allowed to go to school, they would be forced to leave their jobs, sell their homes and move out of state. One mother told of how she moved to Maine four years ago because her state passed forced vaccination. And now they were looking at having to move again. College students testified that they would be forced to quit college and move to find another college, greatly impacting their education.

Other parents strongly advocated forced vaccinations in the belief that unvaccinated children were a threat to theirs. This has been the mantra for years. Some physicians brought up the recent measles outbreak (73 cases as of March 18) in Washington state, carried to the state by children coming across the border. But we don’t live in Washington or some third-world country.

When was the last time a Mainer had the measles? In this century? Zero. The last case for a Mainer was in 1997. But there are many Maine children and families whose lives are devastatingly ruined from the measles vaccine in Maine children.

Other professionals cited case after case, study after study, that documented the tens of thousands of vaccine-injured children, most particularly with Autism. In the early 1980s, cases of Autism were 1 in 10,000. Today, they are 1 in 30-something and predicted to keep rising.

Prior to 1980, children had three shots. And then we went through the actual illnesses with measles, mumps and chickenpox. Since multiple vaccinations started in the early 1980s, you can take charts of the rise in Autism and the rise in vaccinations, put them side to side without labels, and and not be able to tell which is which. They match. The government, years ago, ruled that the drug companies could not be held liable for any adverse reactions to their vaccines. Yet the government has quietly paid out multi-millions in recognition of vaccine-injured children.

Currently, in Maine, parents can opt out of having their children vaccinated, for either religious or philosophical reasons. This Legislature wants to take that choice away. They want forced vaccination. (And can forced vaccination for all adults be far behind? Obama proposed that his first year in office.)

But is the AAPS right in citing "no rigorous safety studies,” along with the documented cases of thousands and thousands of children and families whose lives are devastated from vaccine injury?

There are now new studies that point to the vaccines themselves being responsible for spreading the very disease they are supposed to prevent. It’s called “viral shedding.”

A recent research paper published by the National Academy of Sciences showed that those individuals who had received the live flu vaccine were “shedding” 6.3 times more virus than the unvaccinated! They found that:

1. The vaccinated are “shedding”/spreading more virus simply by breathing;

2. Prior vaccination has weakened the immune systems of those who got the shot; and

3. Individuals who receive the flu vaccine are placing others around them at greater risk than the unvaccinated.

This is called “viral shedding.”

Then there’s the aluminum in vaccines. I’m way out of space, but the information on all of it is at your fingertips. For starters, go to YouTube and search “aluminum in the brains of autistic.” Also: “vaccines viral shedding” and, re: the Hep B virus given to newborns, “Dr. Farley these vaccines are not needed and potentially dangerous.” And listen to any of the many talks by other professionals, like Maine doctor, Suzzane Humphries.

Bottom line: With so many studies, evidence on either side, do we — does anyone — have the right to take away our freedom of choice in the face of such consequences?

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.