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Autism Enters the Conversation at the Second Republican Presidential Debate

Autism entered the conversation at the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, September 16, at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

After about two and a half hours of debate, moderator Jake Tapper asked presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, whether or not fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump should stop publicly claiming that childhood vaccines are linked to autism, according to a New York Times transcript of the debate.

Dr. Carson responded by saying that numerous studies have failed to demonstrate any correlation between vaccinations and autism, then attempted to move the conversation in the direction of big government.

When Tapper again prompted, “Should he (Trump) stop saying it? Should he stop saying that vaccines cause autism?” Carson responded with, “I’ve just explained it to him. He can read about it if he wants to. I think he’s an intelligent man and will make the correct decision after getting the real facts.”

See the interaction in the video below:

Trump responded with the following:

Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control. I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time. Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.

Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

I only say it’s not — I’m in favor of vaccines, do them over a longer period of time, same amount. But just in — in little sections. I think — and I think you’re going to have — I think you’re going to see a big impact on autism.

Dr. Carson responded by saying, “The fact of the matter is that we have extremely well documented proof that there is no autism associated with vaccination, but it is true that we are probably giving way too many in too short of a time and a lot of pediatricians now recognize that and I think are cutting down on the number and the proximity in which those are done.”

After the debate, Autism Speaks released the following statement:

The issue of autism took center stage during last night’s Republican presidential debate, and it must remain at the forefront of the national dialogue. There are millions of Americans affected by autism, many of whom are in need of better treatments, supports and services, and deserve more research on the cause of autism. Our elected officials must take action on behalf of them. We need a national plan that addresses the needs of people affected by autism across the entire lifespan.

As for the issue of vaccines, over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.

Go here for a full transcript of the debate. 

What’s your take on this discussion of autism? Let us know in the comments below.