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Jennifer "Jenny" McCarthy is an American model, television host, comedian, actress, author and screenwriter. She began her career in 1993 as a nude model for Playboy magazine and was later named their Playmate of the Year. McCarthy then parlayed her Playboy fame into a television and film acting career. She is a former co-host of the ABC talk show The View.

McCarthy has written books about parenting and is one of the celebrity leaders of the anti vaccination movement. She has promoted the idea that vaccines cause autism and that chelation therapy and a guten-free diet (along with other experimental treatments) helped cure her son Evan of autism.[1] Both claims are unsupported by medical consensus, and her son's autism diagnosis has been questioned.

Details

McCarthy announced in May 2007 that her son Evan had been diagnosed with autism in 2005. Before making the claim that it was caused by vaccines, she claimed that he was gifted, a "crystal child", and that she was an "indigo mom".[2] Evan's disorder began with seizures and his improvement occurred after the seizures were treated, symptoms experts have noted are more consistent with Landau–Kleffner syndrome, often misdiagnosed as autism.[3][4] McCarthy appeared on television shows such as Oprah and CNN to spread her views.[5]

"Time magazine’s article on the autism debate reports that the experts are certain “vaccines don’t cause autism; they don’t injure children; they are the pillar of modern public health.” I say, 'that’s a lie and we’re sick of it.'" McCarthy in 2010[6]
McCarthy later backpedaled and claimed that she was not anti-vaccination, despite evidence to the contrary,[6][7] such as the false choice she offered between autism and "the f*cking measles."[8]

In response, autistic people have argued that they'd much rather be autistic than afflicted with the measles,[9] a serious and highly contagious disease that causes high fever, rash, and cough and may lead to blindness, severe dehydration, and death.[10] The number of deaths caused by the anti-vaccine movement is estimated to be over 9000, and the number of preventable illnesses over 150,000 between 2007 and 2015.[11]

McCarthy appeared on an edition of Larry King Live on CNN on April 2, 2008, and upset the autistic community by comparing autism to being hit by a bus;

"Let me explain that, recovered, because a lot of people get confused by that. You can't become cured from getting hit by a bus. And this is a really great analogy. But you can recover from getting hit by a bus. It's the same thing with autism. You know, these kids were mowed over. And they regained skills -- their skills back through therapy. And Evan regained all those lost skills that he once had after getting hit by that bus." McCarthy on April 2, 2008[12]
Later in that same edition of Larry King Live, McCarthy was challenged by Dr Harvey Karp and ended up making a fool of herself by swearing twice ("bullshit") instead of listening to what was being said. That performance earned McCarthy the Phil's World "Idiot of the Month" for April 2008.[13]

In a 2014 Daily Beast article McCarthy said of Evan, who was 12 at the time and doing okay: "Evan's amazing,... He doesn't meet the diagnostic characteristics for autism. He definitely has quirks and issues from the seizures. He has a little bit of brain damage due to his seizures. He doesn't qualify for any more services, but he does have issues in his school."[14] Her comments indicate that Evan is still afflicted in spite of her claim otherwise.

McCarthy is presently the spokesperson for Generation Rescue[15] and has served on it's board since 2011.[16]

References

  1. The New Yorker: Jenny McCarthy's Dangerous Views
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20090402112107/http://childrenofthenewearth.com/free.php?page=articles_free/mccarthy_jenny/article1
  3. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1967796-1,00.html Time: The autism debate; Who's afraid of Jenny McCarthy?
  4. http://neurotodayonline.com/pt/re/neurotoday/fulltext.00132985-200808070-00005.htm Neuro Today: Fanning the vaccine-autism link
  5. Los Angeles Times: Jenny McCarthy: anti-vaxxer, public menace
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Washington Post: Jenny McCarthy says she isn’t anti-vaccine. Here are some other things she has said about vaccinations.
  7. BuzzFeed: 11 Things That Jenny McCarthy Has Said About Vaccines
  8. Science writer rips Jenny McCarthy after she denies being anti-vaccine
  9. Medium: I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles
  10. World Health Organization: Measles
  11. Jenny McCarthy Body Count/Anti Vaccine Body Count
  12. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0804/02/lkl.01.html
  13. http://www.philgluyas.com/pp/z/idiot.htm Phil's World Idiot of the Month
  14. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/24/jenny-mccarthy-i-am-not-anti-vaccine.html The Daily Beast: Jenny McCarthy "I am not anti vaccine"
  15. http://www.theoneclickgroup.co.uk/documents/vaccines/Vaccine%20disputes,%20BMJ.pdf
  16. http://www.generationrescue.org/about/leadership Leadership: Board of Directors

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