Oregon’s Republican candidate for governor believes the government should not require parents to vaccinate their children — parents should have the freedom to choose, he has said.
The candidate is a doctor. And he curiously only adopted his current view after launching his gubernatorial campaign.
> Knute Buehler, a physician who currently serves as a state representative, responded to a recorded question about vaccinations by saying that he backed parental rights to opt out even absent a medical basis for doing so.
> “As a physician, I certainly believe in the benefits of vaccination but I also think that parents should have the right to opt out,” Buehler said. “To opt out for personal beliefs, for religious beliefs or even if they have strong alternative medical beliefs. And that has been beneficial. I think that gives people option and choice and that’s the policy I would continue to pursue as Oregon’s governor.”
> Under current Oregon law, parents are able to exempt children from vaccination under specific circumstances: that they talk to a medical provider or watch an online video about the benefits of vaccines.
According to the Daily Beast, Buehler is at least the second Republican gubernatorial candidate to take such a stance on vaccinations: “Kevin Stitt, who is running in Oklahoma, went even further, saying he did not personally vaccinate all of his children (a declaration he later contradicted in a debate). President Donald Trump is himself a noted vaccine skeptic.”
That the anti-vaccination movement might be growing in conservative circles could explain Buehler’s apparent flip on the issue.
> Before he ran for governor, Buehler’s position on vaccines appeared to hew far closer to those pushed by the medical community. According to a 2015 report from My Central Oregon, the state representative spoke in favor of legislation that sought to remove non-medical exemptions for school vaccinations.
> “I’m all for freedom until it starts to do harm to others and I think that this bill helps prevent this,” Buehler reportedly testified. “As a doctor, nothing is more important to me than protecting my patients, especially children who are particularly vulnerable to dangerous diseases.”