Sunday, February 8, 2009

Oprah, Jenny McCarthy, and Autism

Like most middle aged American women, I’m a big fan of  Oprah. Her shows are inspiring, informative and cover every topic. I read her magazine cover to cover. That’s why it’s so frustrating to watch Oprah give Jenny McCarthy free rein to discuss everything related to autism. True, Jenny is the mom of a boy who’s been diagnosed with autism. I don’t object to hearing her share her experiences of raising her son. But this doesn’t mean that Jenny is suddenly an expert in epidemology, medical science, vaccine studies, or even the divorce rate of parents with autistic kids.
I missed the original September broadcast of Jenny McCarthy discussing her Warrior Mother book on Oprah, but I watched the rerun last week. Lots of emotion, big statements, but little respect for facts or science. Autism is a complicated issue. Vaccines are not only a complicated issue but an issue that’s critical to our health. Couldn’t Oprah present us with a balanced, fact based discussion of autism and vaccines?
After this show aired, the blog LeftBrainRightBrain posted a link from Every Child by Two. This organization is asking Oprah fans to contact the Oprah website directly and request a more balanced vaccine show. You can go to Oprah directly and submit your request. Better yet, read the full post on LeftBrainRightBrain.
Did you wonder about Jenny’s 90% divorce rate statement? I can’t find a study that shows that rate. But I did find a more moderate discussion of the topic, along with a referenced study, on About.com/autism.
Parents deserve the right to make decisions based on facts and science, not hype from entertainers.