The Rise and Decline of Science

April 30, 2015

My daughter, who is a pediatrician in California, sends the discouraging news that it is the best-educated parents who are leading the movement against vaccines.

They should read this Rubella Has Been Eliminated From the Americas, Health Officials Say from the New York Times.

Perhaps the most famous American rubella victim was the actress Gene Tierney. In 1943, newly pregnant, she volunteered to be in a show at the Hollywood Canteen, a film-industry nightclub for American troops. She caught the disease that night, and her daughter Daria was born weighing only three pounds, deaf, with cataracts and with brain damage so severe that she never learned to speak.

According to Ms. Tierney’s biography, two years later, at a tennis match, she met a fan, a former member of the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, who said she had slipped out of a rubella quarantine to go to the Canteen that night.

“Everyone told me I shouldn’t go, but I just had to,” Ms. Tierney recalled the woman telling her. “You were always my favorite.”

Ms. Tierney wrote that she was too stunned to answer.

Agatha Christie used that story as a plot device in “The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side.” In it, an actress murders the woman whose thoughtlessness destroyed her child.

Meanwhile, the ACLU asserts that the government has no compelling interest in requiring vaccinations.