University of Minnesota bioethics professor Dr. Steven Miles announced on Facebook Wednesday morning that he was offering $1,000 for “the name and medical records release of the person who Michele Bachmann says became mentally retarded as a consequence of the HPV [human papillomavirus]” vaccine.
Within hours, Arthur Caplan, former head of the U of M’s Center for Bioethics and current director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, had upped Miles’ challenge by $10,000, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
A couple of observations:
- I would assume that Miles and Caplan both understand that releasing medical records is a dicey proposition, given the strictures involved. And it's hardly surprising that the news media aren't mentioning that these two ethicists are asking for a course of action that would be considered unethical. Would the parent of a child really consent to havving their child's medical history splashed across the airwaves and the internet? Would you?
- Having said that, Bachmann is wrong, wrong, wrong about vaccinations. The anti-vaccination folks are playing a dangerous game and Bachmann was exceptionally foolish to play along in the hopes of gaining a temporary political advantage over her rival, Rick Perry. Whether Perry's approach to the matter was wise or not is tangential to the larger point, which is that vaccinations have greatly improved public health and saved the lives of millions of people.