News and Tribune

Opinions

December 4, 2013

THEIR VIEW — For Dec. 4

Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers. Distributed by The Associated Press.

Lack of vaccination puts child, community at risk

U.S. vaccination programs appear to have become a victim of their own success. Because many parents have never experienced the effects of childhood diseases such as mumps or measles — let alone polio — they don’t always appreciate the health risks the diseases pose and the continuing need for vaccinations.

By the time children are 2 years old, they are recommended to have 10 different vaccinations to protect them from diseases such as chicken pox, polio, mumps and flu. But some parents who can’t afford vaccinations for their infants or are concerned about possible side effects from the shots are choosing not to have them vaccinated.

While most vaccinations prevent diseases that have been eradicated from the U.S., getting them for children — whose immune systems are weaker than adults’ — is important because some illnesses, such as polio, are just a plane ride away, Vaccinate Indiana executive director Lisa Robertson said.

In today’s mobile, global business environment, it’s highly likely that a person will regularly come in contact with someone who has traveled overseas. Some of those areas could be centers where a disease is more common, and an unvaccinated person could bring it back home.

Some parents are concerned about possible side effects from vaccines and decide not to have their children immunized. But not vaccinating infants is dangerous not just for the health of the child but for the community. If a child who hasn’t been immunized is exposed to a disease and then comes in contact with someone whose immune system is weak, such as an elderly person, the child could spread the disease to that person as well.

In order to protect the child and the wider community, it is vital that parents vaccinate their children. Just because the parents have never known someone with polio, for example, doesn’t mean they should leave their children unprotected.

— The Tribune, Seymour

Bigots, sinners and HJR-6

“We can’t call people bigots or sinners.” — Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma.

As opening salvos go on the touchiest of subjects before the 2014 General Assembly, Bosma found a way to accurately frame the debate brewing over House Joint Resolution 6. That’s the proposed amendment that would put the state’s same-sex marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution.

Civility will be put to the test.

How Bosma and Indiana Senate President David Long plan to navigate the minefield ahead is yet to be seen. Bosma did more than hint during last week’s annual organization day that he’d prefer to deal with the issue in the coming session to “bring this 12-year discussion to a conclusion in one direction or another.”

Bosma fairly represented the issue when he said that same-sex marriage wasn’t the most important issue facing the legislature. But it will dominate if and when the General Assembly starts the discussion. (The General Assembly is on the clock in the 2014 session to either pass the proposed amendment and send it to the voters in next November’s elections or to reject it.)

Complicating things was the seemingly growing concern among lawmakers who are prone to favor the double codification of the same-sex marriage ban, but who have trouble with a second clause in HJR-6 that could prohibit civil unions or other similar partnerships that come just short of marriage.

Last week, there was even talk about tweaking that part of the proposed amendment and sending the revised version to the voters. The presumption has been that if the legislature changes the language of the proposed measure, the amendment process starts from scratch. That would push a statewide referendum back at least two years.

Will lawmakers try that route anyway? That’s a dicey proposal — one that could just dig up more dust and legal challenges.

Our stance has been that the proposed amendment doesn’t make sense for Indiana. It’s automatically divisive. It paints the state in a negative light. And it causes more problems than it ever could claim to solve.

For the General Assembly, the measure is sure to draw huge crowds — at least as big as those for the recent fights over right-to-work legislation — and keep the legislature from work it should be doing. We’ll go back to a line Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, shared with the J&C a few weeks ago: “It will take a lot of time. It will take a lot of energy. It will take a lot of emotion. And it will take a lot away from other subjects. ... I wish it would go away.”

Bosma, Long and the rest of the General Assembly can do more than wish. They can make this go away. And they should.

— Journal & Courier, Lafayette

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