Mary Franson spouts bogus autism theories at House hearing, gets shut down [VIDEO]

Franson_Autism_Vaccine.jpg
screengrab from MN House video
As Franson says her own kids aren't vaccinated, the guy next to her pulls out his phone.
At a committee hearing Wednesday, Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) treated her fellow representatives -- and, thanks to MN House's video feed, the rest of us -- to her Very Scientific Theories on vaccines and autism.

The committee was supposed to be talking about Rep. Kim Norton's bill to require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism, an issue that was the subject of a City Pages cover story two years ago.

Franson, though, was less interested in coverage and more interested in just ending autism altogether. Seriously: "We can talk about insuring, and that's great and that's hope for the families that are experiencing autism now," Franson said at the hearing. "But what I'm interested in is ending autism."

Fortunately, Franson also had some ideas about how to do that, based on her "own research online."

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Franson is a mother of three, and is "very thankful that none of my children have had to experience autism," she began her remarks. "But also I'm one of those parents that no longer vaccinates, either because of the fear that I have had talking to other parents that have experienced their child becoming -- experiencing autism after what they found they believed correlated with the vaccinations."

So in other words, based on rigorous scientific studies. Or wait, no, because no such studies exist. There was that infamous bogus trial -- run by a discredited doc on only 12 children -- that has since been ruled "dishonest and irresponsible" by the UK's medical council.  But other studies on hundreds of thousands of children have found no link between vaccines and autism, even as persistent rumors have convinced parents to forgo their kids' immunizations and contributed to serious outbreaks of preventable diseases.

Anyway, then Franson got on Google, and found that "mercury is one of those things, it's a poison, it's a neurological poison that affects developing babies in the womb, it affects small children," she informed everyone.

"Do you know of any information that you may be able to share with us," Franson wrapped up by asking, "on what your beliefs are or theories are from the task force on what is being done to hopefully end this?"

Of course, none of this is what the committee was even supposed to be talking about. As the man next to Franson recovered from a coughing fit, and the rest of the room made shuffling-around noises, Committee Chair Tina Liebling stepped in to tactfully steer back on track.

"Um, Representative Franson, this is really off-topic," Liebling said. "The bill is not about the origins of autism. I think I'm just going to go on to the next person."

If you don't want to watch the full 80-minute hearing, here's the clip of Franson's foot-in-mouth moment (via Bluestem Prairie's Sally Jo Sorensen):



h/t: Bluestem Prairie
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52 comments
swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

I'm a parent, my brother-in-law is autistic, and severe reactions to vaccines run in my family.  That said, we had our kids immunized.  There's no such thing as a SAFE vaccine, but the odds are strongly in favor of vaccination.  The way providers will give babies as many as 5 shots in an appointment doesn't feel right to me, and the MMR can make little ones very ill indeed.

I've read a lot of stories about research into the causes of autism.  The stunning increase over the past couple of decades suggests something environmental.  The sky-high rate among Somali kids might be telling as well.  That population just got here in the past 20 years; autism was virtually unknown in Somalia; and now they have a rate far higher than the general population in the same community.  Perhaps it's the processed food, and they had no immunity based on gradual exposure?  Maybe it's all the plastic?  

I think we can be sure we haven't yet found the cause of Autism, and it may be a combination of factors.  I think it's also pretty safe to say Rep. Franson is nowhere near whatever the solution is.  That person is a basic fool, and no doubt.

Marya Morstad
Marya Morstad

This is not a black and white issue and it is irresponsible journalism to call it all "bogus Autism theories." To categorically deny all of the research out there and/or portray anyone who questions it is bogus. Many, many, many parents (VAERS is not always accurate and up-to-date, but you can check there too - hard to get numbers) have witnessed their otherwise healthy children completely change within a day of a battery of shots. Vaccine injuries do exist and for some reason, the mainstream media does not like to report on what pharmaceutical companies may not want you to know. Thimerasol is a proven neurotoxin (not to mention other toxins in vaccines such as aluminium), but no one has ever admitted to this, yet is has been taken out of many but not all vaccines. Why? There is an Autism epidemic, and no one has figured out why. Previously unvaccinated Somali kids are now showing a huge spike in Autism. For concerned citizens who care about "informed consent," you may want to check out NVIC.org, The Canary Party, Age of Autism, and much more. There's a few good independent documentaries, such as "For The Greater Good" and "One More Girl." And by the way, Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been exonerated in the UK -- you can research that too. I am not advocating eliminating vaccines, but to clearly see reality of them, uncover any conflicts of interests and address the side effects in many children. This should be the work of journalists, not parents.

momswhovax
momswhovax

It's truly unfortunate that this woman won reelection by 11 votes last November. She is a scientific illiterate. And Noodlez1, you don't seem to know the difference either between ethylmercury and methylmercury (two totally different things) or between the FDA and the CDC. They took thimerosal out of vaccines not because it was dangerous but because parents THOUGHT it was dangerous and were not vaccinating because of their false beliefs. Many people feel they did the wrong thing, by the way, in bowing to cultural forces in this way. Her concerns are not legitimate. They are offensive, and she is wasting taxpayer and constituent time and money on these personal hobbyhorses.

douglassfff
douglassfff

I think...ah...er...Representative...ah...Franson should..ah..find a..er...new place...of..ah...employment.

Erin Robidoux Stromberg
Erin Robidoux Stromberg

Do you know anyone who has taken their 18 month old in for their check up (vaccination) and shortly after their child goes into a seizure and loses their abiltiy to speak, losing their 50 words they once had? I do and I'm sure you think that is rare, guess what, it's not. No scientific study can debunk the regression you see with your own eyes.

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

...yes, he clearly should still be a doctor.. "Britain's General Medical Council found Andrew Wakefield guilty of "serious professional misconduct" in the way he carried out his research in the late 1990s. The council struck his name from the U.K.'s medical register. The same body in January concluded that Dr. Wakefield's research was flawed, saying that he had presented his work in an "irresponsible and dishonest" way and shown "callous disregard" for the children in his study."

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

...well, really only because they haven't found the cause of autism. Not because they are suspicious of vaccines. The only reason they are testing vaccines, is because of people like you who run around spouting off every bit of misinformation that you hear. And because we have a few number of elected officials who indulge themselves in that same behavior...

Erin Robidoux Stromberg
Erin Robidoux Stromberg

And if they're trying to cater to us - or prevent from being sued, why not conduct the study of the unvaccinated vs. vaccinated and really put it to rest OR study the link between mitochondrial disorder, vaccines and autism - these are the studies us parents of autistic children are demanding if you really want to shut us up.

Erin Robidoux Stromberg
Erin Robidoux Stromberg

Yes, I know all about Dr. Wakefield. It was unjustly revoked too. Unfortunately he's not the only doctor or scientist that forms the same conclusion.

noodlez1
noodlez1

Thimerosal, what I believe Rep Franson, is referring to, is a mercury compound and is used as a preservative in most vaccines here in the US. However, it was discontinued as a preservative agent in infant vaccines in January 2003. If its as safe as you claim it is, why would the FDA have done that? Franson may have been off-topic, but her concerns are still nonetheless legitimate.                    

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

Well, good to see that you read things before you post... "In general, vaccines are not the culprit" "Evidence does not support the theory that vaccines are causing an autism epidemic" "neurological issues and thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCV)" and found the data were "insufficient to establish non-toxicity for infants and young children." The review identified "ambiguity" in some of the studies, likely caused by confounding variables.

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

The guy that brought this vaccine/autism thing up, had his medical license revoked. You know that, right?

Marc Spencer
Marc Spencer

mary needs to get together with michelle bachmann..... wait, seems like she must have done that allready...

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

...because they're being sued, and to keep people like Ms. Franson from spouting misinformation?

Trevor Ludwig
Trevor Ludwig

what? WTF is this? "Can you point me to the scientific study that compares vaccinated children vs. unvaccinated children and the incidence of autism? Oh yeah, there isn't one, wonder why that is." You wonder why that is? Really? Studies don't get funded when there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that they are related in any way. There are also no studies how antibiotics make women grow penises. Gee, I wonder why...maybe it's a conspiracy...

Jason Bistodeau
Jason Bistodeau

Great answer Fiona! My wife works in the medical sciences and I have heard her on more than one occasion tell one of her sisters - practically verbatim - what you posted!

Erin Robidoux Stromberg
Erin Robidoux Stromberg

@Marhya Fasching - Can you point me to the scientific study that compares vaccinated children vs. unvaccinated children and the incidence of autism? Oh yeah, there isn't one, wonder why that is. As far as the court settlements- yep, I'm sure they just presented that they say it on the internet, so the judges awarded them tens of millions of dollars based off of that.

Dale Bradford Sarff
Dale Bradford Sarff

Another Franson escapade that embarrasses the great State of Minnesota. BTW, it is in print that she considers Michelle Bachmann her idol. What does that tell you? 'Nuff said...

Marhya Fasching
Marhya Fasching

@ErinStromberg--"Why did the government just pay out multi-million dollar settlements to 2 children with autism from the vaccine injury fund?"--Answer: court settlements have very little to do with scientific evidence. those decisions were made by judges, not doctors or scientists. Also, we all know that vaccines are not 100% effective. I could still get the flu, even though I got the flu shot. So yes, you can still get whooping cough, even if you got the vaccine. You should watch Penn&Teller's video on this issue...it's not scientific, either, but it sure makes the point nicely. I'll see if I can post the link.

Fiona Robinson
Fiona Robinson

1) Vaccines don't provide 100% immunity. Let's say they provide 99% immunity, just for the sake of argument. 2) Herd immunity. One unvaccinated child puts all children at greater risk, because the unvaccinated child has a greater likelihood to carry the disease, making all those 99% immune kids more likely to be put in danger of their 1% lack of immunity actually being a problem. 3) You can get vaccines without thimerosal (the preservative in some vaccines that contains mercury) if you ask, so... if mercury is what freaks you out, ASK. 4) Most pediatricians are totally fine with an alternate vaccination schedule, so if your concern is that at ONE appointment there are a whole lot of vaccines being given, ask to discuss an alternate schedule so they're spaced out better. You can be a responsible parent with concerns about vaccine schedules without putting kids who CAN'T get vaccinated (like those with legitimate compromised immune systems) at risk. ALSO that wasn't what was up for discussion and Representative Franson had no data to back up any of the claims she was making.

Allison Starnes
Allison Starnes

Its too bad this this woman AND your publication persist on detracting from the real issue at hand. Insurance should cover families with therapy needs for intervention.

Erin Robidoux Stromberg
Erin Robidoux Stromberg

Not a conservative at all, but I agree with her here. Most of the cases of whooping cough recently were in vaccinated children. As a mother of a child with autism, I don't just rely on things I see on the internet. Why did the government just pay out multi-million dollar settlements to 2 children with autism from the vaccine injury fund? Please explain to this nut.

Kat Coats
Kat Coats

per my browser, there is an error with the website program or it is under maintenance. PLEASE, I WANT TO READ IT!

Tom Fru
Tom Fru

She read the same research papers as Tom Cruise.

Theresa Bruckner
Theresa Bruckner

What an irresponsible nut. These vaccine freaks are Typhoid Marys as far as I'm concerned--just terrible. Want to know why whooping cough is suddenly a thing again? Ask people like Mary Franzen, who decided that her kids are more special than everyone else's and don't have to participate in public health responsibilities like the rest of us do just because some nut on the Internet said a thing. Makes me so angry.

ludwitr
ludwitr

Why don't these people actually just say "I think what you're saying has no basis in facts.  Please stop embarrassing  yourself and all of your constituents"?

noodlez1
noodlez1

@momswhovax Can you blame people for being concerned that according to the CDC, the rate for children diagnosed with autism in the US shot from 1 in 150 children in 2000 to 1 in 88 in 2008? Whatever the cause, I think we can all agree that there is a problem.    

momswhovax
momswhovax

@Erin Robidoux Stromberg I heard a doctor tell me about preparing to give a child a vaccine, and five minutes before that vaccine was supposed to be administered, the child went into an epileptic seizure. The doctor later told her colleagues that had she given that vaccine five minutes earlier, right before the onset of that unrelated seizure, there is no science on the planet that would have convinced that mother that it wasn't the vaccine that had caused that seizure, because she had "seen it with her own eyes." Unfortunately, if you are not trained in pediatrics, your own interpretation of physical events will not trump science. And that is the great tragedy of the anti-vaccine movement. The story you've shared about "overnight autism" is, thankfully, on the way out because parents finally understand it simply doesn't happen. 

Drewey
Drewey topcommenter

@noodlez1 

People like you who vote for people like her are the reason our country is going down the shitter.  Thanks

momswhovax
momswhovax

@Trevor Ludwig Unfortunately, there is no way you will convince people who are already anti-vaccine, Trevor. We can only focus on the new and expecting parents. And luckily there is a backlash right now among the 95% of parents who do vaccinate their children, so I hope seeing comments like these (and citations like the Huffington Post) will be a thing of the past soon. But good on you for trying!

webcelt
webcelt

@ludwitr Even from Franson, who expects stuff like that and has a reply ready? Or maybe the DFLers are afraid they won't have Franson to hang around the GOP's necks if she shuts up.

 The funny thing is Franson isn't merely wrong, but seems to think she's about the first to "discover" the vaccine-autism claim. Though I can't help thinking it would have been better for Liebling to let Norton answer the question and debunk the whole thing.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@ludwitr They would have to say that everyday to the Republicans and it just gets tiresome. 

momswhovax
momswhovax

@noodlez1 @momswhovax You misunderstand my point. Autism has nothing--zero--to do with vaccines. Autism is a problem. But that it is a problem is not connected to the issue of vaccines.

mark.gisleson
mark.gisleson

@webcelt @ludwitr Silly liberals. Jenny McCarthy, a woman who (when she was younger) got paid to take her clothes off, says vaccines cause autism. END. OF. DEBATE.

keny1
keny1

@noodlez1 Pay no attention to MB.  She is a fat nigger-loving cunt.

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