WOODSTOCK, May 17, 2005 ( – Michelle Mann, a Toronto freelance writer and columnist, has written on the CBC website that the right to religious freedom and expression in Canada could be a threat to the common good. Following an outbreak of rubella in Oxford county Ontario, Mann suggested May 13th that religious freedoms could be a danger to the state and ought to be curtailed.

The outbreak started two weeks ago in a private Christian school in Norwich. Since then health officials have been working to contain it and several pregnant women, at risk for miscarriages and serious birth defects caused by the disease, have been infected.

Mann suggests that but for the incomprehensible obstinacy of ‘religious groups,’ who choose not to immunize their children, diseases like rubella “could potentially be wiped out on the continent.” between the complete eradication of diseases like rubella is the inexplicable and irrational obstinacy of ‘religious groups.’

The CBC has a long history of anti-Christian, pro-abortion and leftist bias but Mann goes over the top, implying that the pregnant women are complicit, because of their supposed Christianity, in the spreading of disease. She writes, “It is logical to assume that these expectant mothers are from the community and likely not immunized for similar religious reasons, much to the chagrin of many outsiders.”

The facts of the case, however, do not support Mann’s claims. Dr. Sheela Basrur, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said that this outbreak was a matter of a rare case of vaccine failure. While the outbreak started at the school, not everyone who has been infected is a member of the ‘religious group’ in question and at least one of them had been previously vaccinated.

Mann herself confesses a conflict between her confessed pro-abortion bias and her desire to see the religious freedoms of Christians curtailed by the state in a matter that affects unborn children. “I will confess that as a pro-choice feminist, fetal rights are one issue I am not keen to see revisited.”

The question of the irrationality of the choice not to immunize is also open. Many pro-lifers have serious and well-founded ethical reservations about many of the vaccines used for rubella since they were developed using aborted fetal tissue.

Basrur confirmed that there is a principle of freedom of choice in medical intervention in Ontario. “There is a general principle in Ontario that people have a right to choose or decline medical treatment if they are legally able to consent,” she said during a press conference at the Oxford County Board of Health office in Woodstock.

The facts have not deterred Mann, however, and she concludes her column with the suggestion that religious freedoms be suspended. “Where contagion and the best interests of society come into play, state intrusion into individual freedoms, whether rooted in liberty or religion, may well be justified.”

Read London Free Press coverage.


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