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The New Vaccination Bill (S640: 1907)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to the Editor of The Clarion, printed on page two of its 31 May 1907 issue. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S640.htm

     Dear Sir,--I object to Mr. Burns' "Vaccination Act, 1907," chiefly because it continues the cruel and unjust discrimination against the poor. The wealthy and middle classes will be to some extent relieved, but to the poor man there will be little or no relief. He must still go before a magistrate or Commissioner of Oaths, either of whom may be miles away from his home. He must go to them in office hours, and so he must lose perhaps half a day's wages. For the "Statutory Declaration" he will be called upon to pay a fee, equalling perhaps another half-day's wages; and if he escapes the actual cross-examination, he will certainly not always escape contemptuous looks, rude remarks and unnecessary delay. That a Liberal Government, with a Radical and humane Prime Minister, and a Working-man President of the Local Government Board, should thus treat the poor workers--who for these nine years past have borne the chief brunt of "the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely," who have been badgered and denied their certificates, have been fined and imprisoned because they would not have their children blood-poisoned--is to me one of the most amazing outcomes of the present great uprising of the nation against injustice and class-legislation.

     One would think that the very first care of such a Government would be (pending the total abolition of all vaccination laws whatsoever) to make regulations that shall involve the least possible inconvenience and not one penny of expense to the wage-earners, who are not only the most numerous but the most indispensable portion of the population. Why continue this absurd legal mockery, with its "solemn declaration" and its "conscientiously believe" ungrammatically repeated twice over in four lines of a "Statutory Declaration?" Do they think that English parents of any class would take the trouble to apply for an exemption if they really believed vaccination to be beneficial? Why not, then, be satisfied with a simple declaration: "I decline to have my child vaccinated"--a printed form to that effect to be obtained at any post office, where it can be filled up and signed, and posted (free) to the Vaccination Officer, or, preferably, to the Registrar of Births?

     We, who know the evils of vaccination without one particle of redeeming good, wholly deny the right of any Parliament to enforce it. And when we consider that it was first introduced more than a century ago, in the pre-scientific era of medicine, that all the predictions of its upholders have been falsified, that to inoculate healthy but helpless infants with pus from a diseased animal is an outrage on Nature and a crime against humanity; and, lastly, that probably not one in a hundred of those who voted for the successive vaccination laws ever gave a day's serious study to the question, but voted blindly, trusting to the erroneous statements of a profession which has, in all ages, made too many mistakes to be considered infallible, we, who know all this, "CLAIM"--not as a favour, but as OUR RIGHT--complete freedom from this medical tyranny.

     I have myself made a careful study of the facts and statistics of vaccination for more than a quarter of a century, and I feel able to form a more trustworthy judgment as to the uselessness and the dangers of the operation than any number of class-biased doctors, or--in this matter, at all events--ignorant legislators. I therefore speak plainly what I know to be true, and claim boldly what I feel to be just and right.--Yours truly,

Alfred R. Wallace, D.C.L., F.R.S.
Broadstone, Wimborne.

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