Over the last 15 years, three women, living worlds apart, would each experience an event that would set them on a path that, unbeknownst to them, would eventually lead them to one another. Together, we would launch and build Health Choice Maine in an effort to create the community we needed, while working with stubborn resolve to restore and protect medical choice in Maine.
Working in activism, advocacy, education, and litigation, we have developed programs to empower people to be advocates in their own communities. Our advocates have taken our message to the streets, into the legislature, and into the courtroom. We have put information in the hands of over 100,000 people, advocated individually on behalf of 1,000s, and developed important relationships in Maine and beyond.
What began with three women with a shared purpose, has become the premier organization in Maine working on behalf of families, employees, and students across Maine.
We’re part of the Health Choice affiliate network and hold to their guiding principles.
In recent human history, mankind has created and witnessed unprecedented changes in the balance between nature and technology. With the advent of the industrial revolution, technological progress has led to profound improvements in human health and quality of life. Important benefits such as improved sanitation and clean water have combined to reduce human mortality and extend the lifespan. As we recognize these benefits, we also know that technology works best when it serves human needs and worst when it imposes new risks on human development, creating a greater distance between nature and man. Paradoxically, as we become more reliant on technology, we risk losing sight of the proper balance between the benefits and risks of progress, especially in those technologies that intervene most directly in human health.
In order to restore that balance, we must pursue a future based on a more natural vision of human health, happiness and development, one that focuses on wellness rather than disease. The definition of wellness that guides the healing professions should not be the absence of symptoms in the presence of medical intervention, but rather the pursuit of health without the need for drugs. Realizing this future will require a more natural approach to wellness, especially early in life, but also throughout the lifespan. To restore the proper balance of nature and technology, Americans for Health Choice seeks to restore balance to our civil society.
We hold these Principles to be self-evident:
- That awareness of the new man-made epidemics is the first requirement for ending them;
- That when complexity clouds our understanding of health crises, our moral imperative is to first do no harm;
- That the best measure of a safe environment is the total health and happiness of an individual human being;
- That the individual’s right to choose or refuse medical interventions affecting them or their children must be defended;
- That true empowerment requires that the individual is accorded and assumes responsibility for their own health, happiness and nutrition;
- That full access to the healing professions and to truthful information is essential to liberty;
- That when injuries occur as a consequence of institutional failure, the victims deserve justice;
- That the cause of justice is best served when our governing institutions are free from commercial interests;
- That a compassionate society has a duty to provide injured and otherwise disabled citizens with an opportunity for happiness and to treat them with dignity.
We must recognize and face the onset of a wide range of new childhood epidemics: autism and language delay, asthma and food allergy, diabetes and obesity. Over half of American children now have a chronic health condition: a deterioration in our standard of living that should concern all citizens and especially the healing professions. Sadly, we now live in a brave new world of excessive health intervention, a world that has newly forced vaccination and medication on infants and children while also overdosing Americans of all ages. Not surprisingly, the prevailing response of our leading medical institutions to the new epidemics has been complacency and denial. In extreme cases, these institutions suppress the problem by redefining conditions in order to normalize them, effectively erasing the historical record. To retain our collective memory, the development of solutions to this crisis in human health must start with clear awareness and recognition of the new epidemics, beginning in infancy and extending throughout the lifespan.
Precaution is required when we govern actions that affect complex systems in which the consequences of progress and technology are poorly understood. Such complex systems include both our natural environment, where the widespread expansion of economic activity often introduces new and/or larger amounts of environmental toxins, and our own human biology, where poorly tested and documented health interventions championed by the medical industry can have unintended consequences. When such actions carry the potential for serious harm, the burden of proof lies on those arguing in favor of their safety and against evidence of harm. Furthermore, when these actions are medical, there is an even stronger social responsibility in favor of precaution, one that is enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm. With the rising power of the medical industry and the growing pressure to defer authority to experts, there is an urgent need to strengthen our commitment to precaution and to reinforce our obligation to protect consumers, patients and victims from injury and abuses of power. In parallel, we must also defend the preference for more natural therapeutic modalities and nutritional choices in the face of scientific uncertainty.
The true meaning of safety is too often missing from the discussion of medical intervention. This discussion is frequently tangled up in regulatory processes, and is often defined from the perspective of the economic interests of hospital chains, insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies rather than being primarily concerned with the health of patients and victims. The proper definition of safety involves a clear vision of the larger goal of regulatory work, which is securing positive health outcomes for children and families. This vision of safety requires a commitment to a total health perspective, including chronic as well as infectious disease, developmental disability as well as episodic illness, and quality of life as well as the absence of disease. It embraces a philosophy that sets a goal of zero vaccine and other medical adverse events, where these events are treated respectfully, indeed, as a resource for prevention of future adverse reactions. Achieving this goal requires a strong and global commitment to safety science, especially the study of health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
Health choices are a basic human right and must be the foundation of any system of medical care. Choice works at two levels; the freedom from mandates and coercive influences, and the right of all recipients of medical intervention to exercise informed consent in advance of any procedure. Freedom from mandates requires the right of citizens and parents to exempt themselves and family members from undesired procedures, including vaccination. Informed consent requires that unbiased information regarding potential risks and benefits of the procedure be provided to consumers. Society as a whole benefits from the cumulative impact of such free and informed healthcare choices. Anything less risks subjecting human populations to uncontrolled experimentation, financial self-dealing and the tyranny of medical bureaucracy all in the name of a poorly defined “greater good.” The only legitimate locus for determination of what is good for individual health is the informed choice of individual citizens.
In order to secure the right to health and happiness, a human being must be able to exercise his/her fundamental right to privacy and self determination, and the right to make personal choices in pursuit of nutrition, health, healing, well-being and survival. The right to choose requires that every individual holds the right to ultimately decide whether to obtain or reject any health treatment, research, or advice. Full access to health care practitioners healers, researchers, treatments, services, products, devices, substances, and truthful information is an inherent and fundamental right, and is independent of the actions of any government or other regulatory public or private bodies. The global diversity in healing arts theories, practices, treatments, substances, and modalities must be protected and available to all members of the human family.
Empowering individuals with the ability to determine their own destiny without the interference of governing powers is fundamental to any free society. In that respect, a government governs best when it allows its own citizens to be the true sovereigns of their own health and happiness. Realizing the full value of personal sovereignty requires a broader conception of both rights and responsibility: on one hand, the citizen’s natural right to be the controller of their own health, happiness and nutrition; and on the other hand, the same citizen’s responsibility to make informed decisions based on care, truth, and diligence in ways that guide their actions and choices. Personal sovereignty begins at one’s skin, but the significance of threats to personal sovereignty extends far beyond that. Calls to intrude on personal sovereignty “for your own good” or “for the greater good” create a slippery slope to tyranny and must be resisted. The highest levels of collective health and happiness result from the sum of the choices of empowered individuals exercising free will, and reflect governing values based on generosity, tolerance, and kindness rather than on arrogance, presumption, and fear.
With rising awareness of the tragic scope of the environmental injury incurred by so many citizens, young and old, will come a rising demand for justice on behalf of those injured parties. In a just society, restitution for these injuries must be provided: the injured individuals must be acknowledged and their suffering recognized; compensation must be provided to injured parties and their families; and ultimately, accountability for damage and failure must be identified so that important lessons can be learned and passed forward. One such lesson is that a new social contract is required that respects and honors past and potential victims of medical error, arrogance, and avarice. Therefore, we call for a new contract with parents and consumers, one anchored not on a grand gamble and utilitarian calculus, but rather from behind a veil of ignorance, where deference is given to all victims of medical injury and respect accorded equally to all forms of suffering, those that include the absence of intervention as well as its benefits.
Public institutions have the responsibility to carry out public affairs with governance mechanisms that keep decisions free of conflicts of interest and the resultant self-dealing by interested parties. As our society has evolved, the influence of well-organized and well-funded interest groups has made avoiding such conflicts of interest more difficult. In the realm of medical science, we have seen the evolution of “economies of influence” that foster inappropriate alliances of government and industry, often euphemistically labeled “public-private partnerships.” We must restore scientific integrity to medicine by rigorously separating industry influence from the scientific process. We need to place the focus of science on its proper mission, that of affirmatively defending consumer interests and well-being, not provider ambitions and profits. This requires fighting back against the most egregious forms of corruption, such as bribery of doctors, censorship of science, and the intimidation of dissident scientists. At the same time, restoring scientific integrity means reducing the medical industry’s economic leverage over politics and journalism by eliminating the roots of its economic power: direct-to-consumer advertising, regulatory capture, and the revolving door between business and government.
The strength of human civilization is best measured by how well it treats its disabled citizens. This is especially true when the forces of technology and progress, and even mandated medical procedures, inflict injury on a segment of the population. We believe that civic virtue is founded on an ethic of responsibility and compassion for others. For injured citizens we therefore have a collective duty to support, care, assist, and provide resources that enable an acceptable quality of life. A benevolent society connects personal virtue with the collective consciousness and finds meaning through the wisdom of love.