Whose Business is it Anyway?
Jul 26, 2011

Mommy Bloggers Babble About Vaccine Myths (Part 3)

Last week I began a discussion about “Mommy Bloggers” who have voiced their opinions on vaccination. Today’s post continues with a review of a Babble Strollerderby blog written by Stephanie Precourt, entitled “I Don’t Vaccinate My Kids and It’s None of Your Business”. 

Clearly, parents assess vaccines differently and in rather personal ways.  This article is no exception.   Stephanie’s attitudes regarding vaccinations are upfront and emotional – most likely due to her belief that her two children were injured by vaccines.

She complains that she constantly has to “defend herself” regarding this “painful subject” and states, “The debate is, surprise surprise, never ending.  I’m tired of it. Seriously, it’s not anyone’s business but MINE if I vaccinate my kids or not.”

While she is passionate, she is adamant that she doesn’t want anyone judging her for her decisions, she doesn’t want to have to explain her choice and she doesn’t feel she should answer to anyone.
Unfortunately, it is this exact attitude that makes it difficult for vaccine advocates to understand people like Stephanie, and it’s a common theme for parents who choose not to vaccinate their children to feel as though they don’t need to explain their position.  In writing this blog post, Stephanie has essentially created an opportunity for some real dialogue and insight into her vaccine concerns.  However, her attitude mimics a frustrated child storming off the playground when she states, “…reading fiery blog posts about it [vaccines] and offering a defense when only falling on deaf ears? I’m done.”
Stephanie certainly has every right to complain that her “defense” falls on deaf ears, but it’s interesting that she then turns a deaf ear to everyone else – hardly the way to improve communication and understanding. The reality is that there are – and probably always will be – parents who would choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children.  However, ignoring our different perspectives will certainly not help us to put an end to the “never-ending” debate.  The way I see it, if parents can try to have civil conversations about their concerns, they may then have a productive dialogue and  learn something about one another.  But, if we decide to ignore one another, we can rest assured the issues we’re concerned about will never be adequately addressed.
What’s probably the most telling statement she makes is when she explains that

“People are only passionate about voicing their opinions publicly because they are trying to validate their choices”.  She goes on to say that “The loudest voices are often the most unsure, seeking the validation that their choice is the right one because as much as they are trying to pretend they know exactly what they’re doing, none of us really knows what we’re doing”.  Yet, she readily admits that, in the past, she “was quick to defend our stance on immunizations because possibly I was still convincing myself that I was doing the right thing. You know, searching for that validation?”

It’s interesting to hear this comment from a parent who is so strongly opposed to vaccination.  The fact that there even is a “debate” surrounding vaccines is a direct result of the passionate people who publicly oppose vaccination, in direct conflict to the recommendations of the immunization experts. In trying to validate their choices that ignore the scientific research, anti-vaccine activists often make quite a lot of noise and draw as much attention as possible.  In fact, online commentary offered here on Shot of PreventionMoms Who Vax, Parents Who Protect, and the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, have only come into existence because of the anti-vaccine rhetoric that has permeated so many online forums.
Sorry to say Stephanie, but the vaccine conversation is really just getting started and that is largely because the pro-vaccine camp is no longer going to sit back and allow the misinformation to continue.   More parents are recognizing the threat that unvaccinated children pose to our public health at large, and so they too are beginning grass-roots efforts to counter the misinformation of those who oppose vaccination.  They are speaking up in favor of things such as  stronger mandates, limited exemptionsvaccine developments, and further availability and accessibility world-wide.
Like many others who oppose vaccines, Stephanie advises the following:

“Here is where your own research, common sense, and parenting intuition is going to kick in for you. No one (doctor, friend, or Internet) can assure you more than what your gut instinct confirms.”

Unfortunately, such dangerous advice is exactly why vaccine advocates are concerned about the influence of the anti-vaccine mommy bloggers.  No one would ever accept recommendations from immunization experts that were made based on gut instinct, would they? 
Goodness, I sure hope not! 
Here at Shot of Prevention, we feel that parents should value the recommendations of experts, who have an intimate understanding of the research and science, because after all, whose business it is anyway?
Do you feel that Stephanie’s choice not to vaccinate her children is anyone else’s business?  Why or why not?

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23 responses to “Whose Business is it Anyway?”

  1. Matt Blum says:

    Suppose someone said “I drive drunk all the time and it’s none of your business!” If I’m going to be driving or walking anywhere near that person, it sure as heck IS my business.
    Likewise, if I’ve got a kid who’s going to be anywhere near her kids, or if I’m an adult with a compromised immune system who’s going to be anywhere near her kids, it most certainly is my business that she chose not to vaccinate her kids. Your personal and parental decisions are nobody else’s business right up until the point where they can affect someone else’s welfare, and no further.

  2. Pediatric nurse from Iowa says:

    It’s becoming that parents are trusting the internet more so than experts, research and science nowadays. That’s what I don’t understand. Not vaccinating your child does indeed affect another child, vaccinated or not. So that’s exactly why it becomes our business.Great article.

  3. How about:
    If you don’t vaccinate it’s my business because my parents are elderly and have poorer resistance, and unvaccinated people carry diseases that can cause them great harm, possibly even kill them.
    If you don’t vaccinate for ‘flu it’s my business because I am extremely vulnerable to respiratory infections, which I suspect will kill me one day. I have never smoked.

  4. Susan Kamper says:

    I vaccinate my child not only for her safety but the safety of other children much to the concern and anger of my step mother. I was always up to date on my shots and never got sick from them. I trust that record over the crap my step mother tries to use to scare me out of getting my children’s shots. I trust the doctors and experts over the parents who believe I am wrong in getting their shots when they are due. I’d rather my child get the shots than die or suffer for something that could have been avoided. I’d rather my child be surronded by children who have their shots up to date but I can’t ask their parents if they’ve been given all their shots without seeming nosey…

  5. KathyH says:

    I think anything that involves illness affects the rest of us because said illnesses can be transferred to others. That is the whole point of mass vaccination and the reason it is a publi health concern. So, bloggers like Stephanie are wrong when they say it is none of our business whether they vax their children or not. It is our business because we get their child’s germs when they go around town and they get ours.
    I wish we could all just have a healthy dialogue instead of getting overly defensive about this issue. I really hate when people tell me my kids are getting poisoned by the vaccinations but then they don’t want to listen to me explain to them why the ingredients are not poison, in my opinion, and what exactly they do and how they affect the body. I hate it when they tell me that they are not afraid if the diseases but then they don’t want to listen to me tell them stories of children injured by said diseases. If we could all just have a healthy, rational dialogue, that would be so much more mature!

  6. Nicole says:

    There is something completely illogical about having an “opinion” about science. That is the whole problem with this issue — opinions over facts.

  7. It becomes my business. I’m asthmatic with a very weak immune system. What is usually a brief illness for a lot of people is a month-long battle for me. I also have sleep apnea, and use a CPAP machine to help me breath at night. However, if I’m coughing, I can’t use the CPAP, since it disrupts the air pressure and also just re-infects me with whatever I have. So I don’t use it, meaning that I don’t get a good quality of sleep, which over time does affect many organs. But sometimes I get better faster when I don’t use my CPAP.
    I vaccinate when I can, and rely on other people around me to also vaccinate, because I am all too aware that if an outbreak happens, I could very well be fighting for my life.

  8. Chelsea says:

    I find it funny how many who are against vaccines are also the same people who push breastfeeding for everyone. I’m a breastfeeding mom, but I know that the choice of breastfeeding or formula only affects individual families, while vaccinating is most definitely everyone’s business, but anti-vaccine activists want everyone else to stay out of it. I can’t say the hypocrisy surprises me, given the lack of logic in anti-vaccine arguments, but it’s interesting that they just don’t see it.

  9. Venna says:

    *sorry this is so long*
    Having grown up surrounded by anti-vaccine sentiment, I believed what they believed at one time because it’s what I was trained to believe my entire life growing up. It was stated with passion and with scary stories about vaccine injuries and death. My own mother told me vaccines would make me sick and would even, very likely kill me. Imagine my horror then when at the age of 16 my mother pulled me out of school early one day and took me, along with my siblings, to the county health department to get MMR vaccines so we wouldn’t get removed from school again. My only thought was, how much does this woman not care about me to subject me to something so dangerous?
    When nothing happened to me after getting the shot, not even mild reaction that is common in many people, I started to question what I’d believed all my life. Do vaccines really kill people? Are they really dangerous? Are they really responsible for the outbreaks and epidemics of diseases like my mother and the rest of her family told me all my life? I wasn’t able to research the answers to these questions until I was out of my mother’s influence and expecting my own first child.
    When I learned the truth, I felt betrayed. I had been lied to all my life and it made me wonder what else my mother had led me to believe that wasn’t true. Everything she had been so passionate about in her life and had indoctrinated into her children began to swim in my memory and I couldn’t help but wonder why she believes so vehemently when there is so much available (this was WAY before the Internet by the way) with the real information and the truth about it.
    I made the decision to vaccinate my children, and I’m not sorry I did. I suffered through mumps and it was horrible, but I survived and according to my mom, I was stronger for it. I suffered through pertussis, I survived, but my lungs are now permanently damaged and I’ll never have the same lung capacity I had prior to getting it. But according to my mother, I’m stronger for it.
    My mother died about four and a half years ago, complications from diabetes. When she was first diagnosed with it, she exercised and took her insulin and ate as her doctor recommended and prescribed. After a few yeas, she felt she didn’t have to listen to him anymore since she still had diabetes and he hadn’t cured her yet. I don’t believe my mother understood that there isn’t a cure for it, only treatment options and if those treatments aren’t followed, you will die. She read something on the Internet about three years after her diagnosis about something that could cure diabetes. I tried to talk to her about it, telling her diabetes can’t be cured, only treated, and advised her not to believe everything she reads on the Internet because a lot of it is not true. She in essence did the mom who is talking to a pertinent child thing, said she knew what she was doing and for me not to worry. I warned her to be careful because there are a lot of people out there who don’t care about her health as much as they do about making money off her. She didn’t listen and I knew she wasn’t going to. She had made up her mind and there was no talking sense to her. She started taking this ‘miracle diabetes cure’ and her health deteriorated rapidly. She was also still taking her insulin, periodically, but she wasn’t exercising or eating properly. It was a long slow decline but she was gone in about four years from that time. She was only 62.
    Granted her diabetes didn’t hurt anyone, really, but her, therefore her choice to not treat it correctly also didn’t hurt anyone but her. But she left behind 7 children, a husband, 15 grand children, three more that were on the way and she never met and so far one great grand child she won’t know either. It hurt me so badly to see my children crying at her funeral and there was nothing I could do about it. They loved her, they missed her and she was gone. This is an example of what the anti-vaccine belief system can do though. How long is it before a person stops believing science based medicine all together and seeks for miracle cures to things like this on the internet? There isn’t a vaccine to prevent diabetes, but I wish there were. I would get it just because I’m at risk, it runs in my family and I’d much rather prevent it’s onset then have to suffer through it. Granted there are certain things I can do in my lifestyle that will help to prevent it.
    I hold this same belief in regards to vaccines and infectious disease, I’d much rather prevent it then suffer through it (and I did suffer through some of them too). Infectious viruses aren’t like diabetes, you can’t change your lifestyle to prevent them from finding you, or your children. The virus will find you and if you haven’t taken preventative measures against it, it will take up residency and wreak havoc on your body. And while you are having your cells remodeled by the virus, everyone you come into contact with will potentially also catch it. What if someone who contracted that disease from you ended up seriously maimed or dead? Would you still believe it was nobody’s business but yours? The truth is out there, but one has to be open minded enough to listen and not do the ‘sticking your fingers in your ears and humming really loud’ bit whenever anyone says anything contrary to what you believe is correct. There is a difference between opinion and fact. Science and medicine can’t and should not be treated the same way religion is. Leave your gut instinct and your belief where it belongs, with religion. Listen to the experts when it comes to medicine and vaccines. For the sake of my children and all future generations, vaccinate your children!

  10. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Your gut instinct if your clothes catch fire is to run. It’s not natural to “stop, drop, and roll” but that’s what the experts teach. It saves lives and minimizes burn injuries.
    @6 – Right, and people seldom have opinions about gravity or materials engineering – when was the last time someone opined that gravity was just “those experts” and stepped off a roof, or an airline built a plane out of cardboard to save money?

  11. ChrisKid says:

    Venna, that was eloquent and moving. I wish we had answers for all the questions and cures for all the illness, but since we don’t, I understand why people will continue to look in the wrong places. It’s just so hard to sometimes to get good information out there when the wrong stuff is so enticing. Why bother with ‘treatment’ when someone will promise you a ‘cure’? It’s an unfair fight when the quacks and woo peddlers will tell people anything and the scientists and medical practitioners have to tell the truth.

  12. Twyla says:

    In the blog you linked to, Stephanie Precourt wrote, “My first two children were injured by their immunizations as babies- one was mild and one was a life-threatening condition that has had lasting effects. Now vaccinations are not even an option for us to decline- my kids can’t and won’t be vaccinated. I will not expect someone else to make decisions for their own children based off my experience, but I do not think adverse reactions to immunizations should be shrugged off.”
    It astounds me that when parents tell about their children’s serious vaccine reactions, the response is a lecture on the dangers of not vaccinating. She did vaccinate. Her kids were injured by vaccines. For whatever reason, they are sensitive, susceptible, vulnerable.
    She’s tired of talking about it, tired of having to defend her decisions, tired of telling the painful stories. That’s understandable.
    The solution to vaccine injury is not stronger mandates and more limited exemptions. This is like a totalitarian dictator’s response to dissent. The solution is a better understanding of vaccine problems.

  13. noname says:

    Parents of vaccine injured children are fustrated! Especially at blog responses like this one. Who is supposed to report the side effects? The nurse who gave the injection? Well I never sent my child home after vaccination with the nurse.
    When your daughter dies in a car accident; what does the coroner’s report say? Something to the effect of —> Cause of Death: cerebral hemorrhage
    It does not say car accident.
    Then provac no matter what protect the vaccine parents cruely tell vacine injured parents that it was just a coincidence. No investigation. No logical reasoning even though vaccine advocates state that it is not risk free. But then a parent claims thier child was injured and they are shushed and brushed under the rug. Out of sight out of mind.
    We have had 3 generations of vaccine reactions. 2 of my children had reactions 1 died and 1 almost died. Even with all the reporting avenues no one has ever investigated why this happens to my kids. The pediatricians refer me to CDC the CDC refers me to the pediatrician. With no answers at all they just tell me to keep vaccinating our other children. We can’t take that risk anymore.
    So yeah! we get to the point where we don’t want to explain ourselves because NO ONE is listening. Our kids are being hurt and NO ONE cares.
    As Twyla has nicely put
    “The solution to vaccine injury is not stronger mandates and more limited exemptions. This is like a totalitarian dictator’s response to dissent. The solution is a better understanding of vaccine problems.”
    Thak you Twyla

  14. Alicia says:

    I completely understand parents who have had children who have been hurt or have died after a vaccine. Our own doctor’s little boys weren’t able to get vaccinated because of an egg allergy, and a friend’s oldest child had a bad reaction to a vaccine (luckily he’s okay), so she won’t vaccinate the other ones. My heart goes out to those parents, and those who have lost their children.
    However, there’s a way to make people aware of the risks without saying that all children would benefit more from not being vaccinated than being vaccinated, and sometimes that’s what it seems like anti-vaccination parents are doing. Of course (and unfortunately) there are risks with vaccines, like there are risks with *any* medical procedure or medicine. Since each person has a unique physical condition, it’s near impossible to say who will react to what and how, and that sucks (a lot), but it’s a fact of life. My husband almost died four years ago due to a drug reaction called Serotonin Syndrome. Basically his brain was shutting down, and that was scary as hell for us all. I’m grateful he’s okay with no lasting effects, but this is one example of how reactions can be. He was healthy with no known drug allergies or previous reactions, and then *poof*! He landed in the ICU.
    This particular blog from Babble (which I read when it was first posted on their site) is just as frustrating as people ignoring the bad reactions and deaths from vaccines (and as frustrating as dealing with the anti-vaxers who rely more on pseudo-science than real science). It seems like a lot of people, like the blog’s author, who need to sit back and look at this whole topic calmly and realistically. Yes, vaccines help a lot, but yes, there are risks of serious reactions like any medicine or medical procedure. Yet a parent’s decision should be made on sound scientific knowledge of vaccines and how they work, and not on anecdotal stories of what happened to someone else’s child, though those stories shouldn’t be disregarded completely. Just take those stories as a caution to pay attention to your child after getting a shot or shots for signs of a reaction just like you would after giving your child a new medicine.

  15. Twyla says:

    P.S. By “we” I don’t just mean parents don’t have that info — I mean nobody knows.

  16. I am totally understanding of parents who have fears I have always been fearful of vaccine preventable diseases. Possibly because my grand father died from tetanus, my mom’s twin brother died from diphtheria, and her cousin in the great influenza epidemic in the early 1900s. One of my best friends and my school nurse from elementary were crippled from polio, my sister almost died from secondary infections of chicken pox. My only child died from vaccine preventable meningococcal meningitis. My mom died a few years ago from HIB pneumonia and because of a hard head and a bad marriage that only lasted for a year, I contracted HPV which ultimately led to a hysterectomy. I lost the very part of my body that had carried my precious Ryan. All of these could have been prevented with vaccines. However they were not yet developed at the time. That is except for the one that could have prevented Ryan’s death. There was one that could have prevented Ryan’s death. I had no knowledge of its’ existence or education on it. There was no recommendation for use. I had no choice. If I had he would have been vaccinated.
    After being in several public CDC hearings across the country this summer where both vaccine resistant and vaccine supporter parents came together, were able to discuss their concerns and educate each other on their fears, the disease and the vaccines. We found almost all from both sides were for preventing meningococcal disease in infants through vaccines. It was about us being able to talk openly parent to parent and gathering understanding of each others fears and the facts.
    I think all of us who have lost children or have children that are debilitated want to find a reason. We need that as parents. For those of us who have lost children or have children severely debilitated to vaccine preventable disease such as meningitis, we are open to the world. Sadly most can see what those injuries are because we have graves we visit or out of those children who survive many have amputations, severe brain damage, seizers disorders, organ failure, blindness, deafness and more. We have lab reports and autopsy reports that support our claim.
    I will not presume to say that no child has not ever been harmed by vaccines. However over the summer the question came up over and over again to those parents who made this claim, “How was your child harmed? What was the damage caused to your child by the vaccine. What were the signs of allergies? ” Over and over those parents gave no specific answer. They could not give factual or even statements of specific claims. I truly wanted to know, to be educated. I actually felt their frustrations.
    I think, (and my opinion and $ 5.00 will buy a cup of coffee, you know, at that coffee place) for those of us who support vaccines to truly understand those who don’t we have to hear real fact based and in depth statements as to what the harm/damage caused by the vaccine is? We need to understand your cause, your fears, your fight.
    One simply has to walk around an old cemetery to see the value of vaccines. For me it is a glance though a family album or the pain in my heart that never leaves and the worst, the vision of my only child, my life bleeding to death on an emergency room table and having to leave his precious body in a cemetery.
    As we all move forward on this issue: We must do several things:
    Continue to make sure vaccines are safe and effective.
    We must make sure that FDA continues to approve those safe and effective vaccines.
    We must make sure that CDC/ACIP make recommendations to use those vaccines so we all truly do have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate. (Remember recommendations are not mandates. They just make sure all children have access no matter social or economical status.)
    We all must continue to educate ourselves on diseases and the vaccines to prevent them though reliable sources.
    We must remember the CDC/ACIP is made up of not only dedicated physicians and experts but they are also parents and grand parents who vaccinate their own children. They present fair and factual statements on the disease and vaccines to prevent it.
    We must keep the dialog open on both sides and make sure that what we say is truth and fact.
    For those who claim harm they must state facts and explain exactly what the harm was/is so we all can work together to insure it does not happen again.
    We must show compassion and understanding for each others views though we don’t always agree, while at the same time making sure our decisions are truly the best for our own children as well as others.
    We all must make sure that our decisions are based on facts and science and not innuendos, propaganda, false statements and accusations
    We must push forward for more research on autism and the real cause. It has been proven over and over again it is NOT from vaccines.
    We must all work together to make sure that all of us are protected from deadly disease.
    We must encourage those who research and develop vaccines to continue this work and find those vaccines that will prevent Hepatitis C, diabetes, various cancers, MS, Lupus and the worlds most contagious and deadly, HIV, just to name a few.
    I say, If infants and children had a choice and a voice they would choose vaccination over illness and death. However they don’t, so we have to be that voice. The voice of science, fact, reason and protection of life and health. Vaccinate!!
    I am Frankie Milley, just a mother who lost a child and as a source of survival, I spend my life as an advocate to stop not on the deadly disease that took Ryan but other vaccine preventable diseases too. I am the founder and national director of Meningitis Angels.
    Visit http://www.meningitis-angels.org and our new site http://www.protectinfantsnow.org

  17. Samantha K. says:

    Vaccinating should always be a choice. This as Americans is our right. Also, our choice as parents. Yet, as parents we should be informed about vaccines. It is important as a parent to know the pros and cons to be able to make the right decision for your child or children. In our society, it is very important to know the protection vaccines due and effects of a child’s wellbeing for future generations, amount of money saved, and also to remember there is a choice to vaccinate or not. As parents the protection that vaccines give our children is proven. That is out there and is researched in an abundant amount. Diseases and illnesses that have been prevented for years: chickenpox, measles, and Hepatitis B (just a small example out of many) are coming back. A term called herd immunity is used when discussing vaccines. This basically states that if a majority of a community get the vaccine then as a whole are less likely to get the disease or sickness. This also can go the opposite direction. With on the rise people advocating for non-immunizations this is turning and therefore more children are getting sick. Even with the choice parents have in the long run if your child were to get an illness/ disease the money that you would loss where in doctor bills or if it were to be very serious long term facilities, wages lots from missing work, or worst case a funeral. Even though as parents we have a choice we need to be educated on the right decisions and make sure they do their own research. Not just listen and take advice from a Doctor, neighbor, or even a family member, be smart and research then make your decision.

  18. Chris says:

    Samantha K: “Vaccinating should always be a choice. This as Americans is our right.”
    Do you ask the children whether or not they want to get sick versus getting a disease? Who gave this little boy the choice to get SSPE:
    And in reality, you have the choice to not vaccinated. By skipping that public health responsibility you just lose access to public schools. It means you have made the choice to home school your child.
    “Diseases and illnesses that have been prevented for years: chickenpox, measles, and Hepatitis B (just a small example out of many) are coming back.”
    Citation needed.
    Plus, why do you make evidence free wall of texts comments on five year old articles?

  19. Chris says:

    I need to fix a typo: “Do you ask the children whether or not they want to get sick versus getting a vaccine that prevents a disease?”
    Because that is who the adult is making the choice for… the child. And the majority of the kids who got sick, including several who were hospitalized, due to the Disneyland measles outbreak were not vaccinated. Many were actually too young to be vaccinated… they got very sick become another person did not vaccine their own children. See:
    Which says:

    Twelve of the unvaccinated patients were infants too young to be vaccinated. Among the 37 remaining vaccine-eligible patients, 28 (67%) were intentionally unvaccinated because of personal beliefs, and one was on an alternative plan for vaccination. Among the 28 intentionally unvaccinated patients, 18 were children (aged <18 years), and 10 were adults. Patients range in age from 6 weeks to 70 years; the median age is 22 years. Among the 84 patients with known hospitalization status, 17 (20%) were hospitalized.

    So twelve babies were sickened because of the decisions by another family. Anyone responsible for letting those kids get sick, with a much higher chance of getting SSPE later, should be ashamed.

  20. Amy says:

    Because vaccinations are on the decline makes the communities more vulnerable to the spread of disease, placing many at risk is a reasonable statement. However, it doesn’t take away form the many questionable health risk that have risen as a result of various studies and Mom’s testimony that I have read on this blog. This is a very heated debate that can cause a divided community but let’s not forget that parents are within reason to question whether or not it is right for their family based on current research that is available and evolving. It’s a parent’s right to make this choice and it’s not one that is taken lightly.

  21. Chris says:

    Amy: “However, it doesn’t take away form the many questionable health risk that have risen as a result of various studies …”
    What studies? If they have been discussed on this blog it is often to explain what is wrong with them. And “Mom’s testimony” are just anecdotes, and are not reliable.
    “It’s a parent’s right to make this choice and it’s not one that is taken lightly.”
    Do you think the parents of the twelve babies too young to get the MMR vaccine chose for them to get measles and a much higher chance to die a slow painful death from SSPE? Did you actually read the my comment just prior to posting this on a five year old article?

  22. Lawrence says:

    I, too, would be interested to see these “studies.”
    I wait with bated breath for Amy to provide them to us….

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