A doctor who doubts the legitimacy of vaccines, including the coronavirus vaccine, and promotes controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment, will testify at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday as the lead witness.
The decision comes just as health officials are pushing for the upcoming coronavirus vaccine, prompting a backlash from Democrats.
Dr. Jane Orient is the executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons — a group of doctors who oppose government involvement in medicine and consider mandatory vaccines a violation of rights.
“A public health threat is the rationale for the policy on mandatory vaccines. But how much of a threat is required to justify forcing people to accept government-imposed risks?” Orient wrote in a statement to the Senate last year, exclaiming that vaccine mandates are “a serious intrusion into individual liberty, autonomy, and parental decisions.”
Despite her stance on vaccines, Orient resists the title “anti-vaxxer” and confirmed she would not get the coronavirus vaccine when available due to an autoimmune condition.
Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) harshly criticized the decision to invite Orient to testify amid a global pandemic that has killed over 280,000 Americans.
“At such a crucial time, giving a platform to conspiracy theorists to spread myths and falsehoods about Covid vaccines is downright dangerous and one of the last things Senate Republicans should be doing right now,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Some Republican House members, however, such as Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), seem to be embracing Orient’s views.
“Americans should have the freedom to take the COVID vaccine,” Duncan wrote on Saturday. “Americans should also have the freedom to decline the vaccine.”
Americans should have the freedom to take the COVID vaccine.
Americans should also have the freedom to decline the vaccine.
— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) December 5, 2020
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