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."
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