Closeup of a vial of COVID-19 vaccine.

Republicans Invited Anti-Vaxxer Doctor To Testify in a COVID-19 Senate Hearing

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing Tuesday in which they invited a bunch of doctors to come in and give testimony defending the use of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19.

There were other drugs discussed in the hearing on early treatment, but much of the testimony was dedicated to defending doctors against the way they were “ridiculed and shamed” over decisions to prescribe the controversial drug. From what I can tell, they did not address Donald Trump’s role in bringing that shame and ridicule onto the subject by publicly touting the efficacy of the drug without actually knowing anything about it despite the advice of experts, while failing to disclose that he held a financial interest in the drug’s success.

Among the doctors invited to give testimony was Dr. Jane M. Orient, the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which sounds like a totally normal and legit medical organization but is actually dedicated to fighting federal vaccine mandates and other forms of government involvement in medicine (like the Affordable Care Act for example).

Yup, Republicans invited an anti-vaxxer to give testimony about COVID-19.

From the New York Times:

“A public health threat is the rationale for the policy on mandatory vaccines. But how much of a threat is required to justify forcing people to accept government-imposed risks?” Dr. Orient wrote in a statement to the Senate last year, calling vaccine mandates “a serious intrusion into individual liberty, autonomy and parental decisions.”

In a phone interview with the Times, Orient pushed back on being called an “anti-vaxxer” but also critized the government’s push for mandated vaccines, saying, incredibly, “Where is ‘my body, my choice’ when it comes to this?”

In her testimony today, Orient denounced “quarantines, masks, and lockdowns,” saying, “They have not stopped the pandemic and are unsustainable. Vaccines are touted as a great hope, but have not been shown to prevent contagion.”

A number of Republicans have defended Orient’s inclusion on this panel. Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina tweeted, “Americans should have the freedom to take the COVID vaccine. Americans should also have the freedom to decline the vaccine.”

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote that “At such a crucial time, giving a platform to conspiracy theorists to spread myths and falsehoods about Covid vaccines is downright dangerous and one of the last things Senate Republicans should be doing right now.”

(via NYT, image: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.