General Conference Acts on Girls' Rights, Mercury in Vaccines
By Yvette Moore*
General Conference adopted resolutions promoting the rights of the girl child and protecting all children from the mercury-containing drugs. Women's Division initiated the resolutions jointly approved by General Conference delegates in an 839-34 vote.
"The Girl Child" resolutions acknowledged that while all children are among the most vulnerable in any society, many cultures place a lower value on girls, creating unique perils that require special protection. Girls often have limited educational opportunities, face dangerous cultural practices such as child marriages, or are forced into hazardous and exploitive work situations, including prostitution. The resolution called on local churches, conferences, general agencies, and church-related organizations to prioritize the empowerment of girls through education, financial literacy programs, and development of strategies to build girls' stakes in their societies.
The "Mercury-Containing Drugs" resolution calls for The United Methodist Church to support all efforts to protect children and the public from mercury-containing drugs. This includes Thimerasol, a severely toxic organic mercury compound added to some vaccines and pharmaceutical products since the 1930s and is still used in some childhood vaccines and the flu shot. California's Environmental Protection Agency declared Thimerasol a developmental toxin that can cause birth defects, low birth weight, biological dysfunctions, or psychological or behavior deficits that manifest as the child grows. Many parents associate the drug with the onset of autism in their child.
The mercury resolution urges the church to advocate for governmental prioritizing of mercury-free stocks of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products for pregnant women, newborn infants, and children. Women's Division submitted the resolution to General Conference after a year of study and an educational event on the issue.
"For a lot of people this is such an affirmation that the church is concerned about something they've been dealing with alone for a long time," said Julie Taylor, Women's Division executive for women and children's concerns and coordinator of the division's 2007 educational events on the issue. "I hope this is going to be the impetus for really pushing for informed consent in the United States, so wherever vaccines are given, people will ask about it and bring it to the attention of health-care providers. Globally, we hope this will help in the process of getting mercury eliminated from vaccines we export to other countries to help them."
*Yvette Moore is an executive secretary for communications with the Women's Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: May 01, 2008