Anti-vaccine chiropractors 60 – the callousness of ignorance

[Originally published as Anti-vaccine chiropractors
redux 10 – the callousness of ignorance]

Cate Andrews (Uebergang) is a chiropractor in the Queensland town of Goondiwindi, where she operates Life Chiropractic Goondiwindi. Andrews is a member of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia.

Andrews’ Facebook profile notes her profession and place of business:

Uebergang 1 profile

Her Facebook likes include three extreme anti-vaccination pages, including the discredited, fundamentalist, anti-vaccination group, the Australian Vaccination Network:

Uebergang 7 likes antivax pages

Andrews deals in the sale of essential oils, for which she makes therapeutic claims, from her chiropractic business:

Uebergang 6 essential oils

Andrews also facilitates hair tissue mineral analysis, an extremely dubious diagnostic test, via her chiropractic business:

Uebergang 4 hair mineral analysis

On her website’s “chiropractic” page we find that Andrews is a vitalistic chiropractor who believes that “spinal misalignments (or subluxations) are playing a role in your discomfort or symptoms and affecting your quality of life.” Remember, these claims surrounding subluxations all happen with the imprimatur of the CAA and the Chiropractic Board of Australia. There is nothing in the Code of Conduct for Chiropractors or the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services which precludes the use of magic as a sales pitch. Nothing. The words are in there, but, they mean nothing. This is because the invisible, immeasurable subluxation still holds sway in the minds and practices of many senior Australian chiropractors.

And, when chiropractors are allowed to trade on magic, that’s when we see them treating babies, and making claims like this:

Uebergang 3 asthma ear infections colic etc website

And when magic reigns, we see the fantastical get a run in the name of business:

The root cause of every single disease is lack or improper movement

Uebergang 2 cause of disease website

But I didn’t come here to spend too much time attempting to parse all of the above. There is a more sinister reason why Andrews came to my attention.

As most of us would now be aware we lost another little baby, very recently. Four-week old Riley Hughes lost his fight with whooping cough. Cath and Greg – Riley’s Mum and Dad – have been putting aside their own shattering pain – intermittently – to warn the community of the dangers of Pertussis; Toni and Dave McCaffery have been right by their side, knowing only too painfully what the Hughes are going through. This is heartbreaking stuff. It leaves a wretched feeling in all.

But, with any information campaign involving vaccines always comes the anti-vaccination lobby. It is an unfortunate aspect of social media, and it was only a matter of time before the fog of venom descended. Toni and Dave are only too aware of the fangs of the anti-vaccine lobby, but, at least they could prepare Cath and Greg for what was to come. Some of the usual tropes trotted out against the McCafferys were: Dana was sickly anyway; Dana only “supposedly” died from whooping cough; Dana’s Hep B vaccine at birth damaged her immune system; Dana must not have been breastfed; Dana’s death was merely an anecdote; throw images of another dead baby into the mix, like this is some macabre competition. Repugnant. Just repugnant. Meryl Dorey has been doing this sort of thing since 1997.

Andrews commented on the AVN Facebook page:

AVN 6922 Cate Uebergang baby death info

What Andrews is doing is textbook anti-vaccine: sow uncertainty around the events so as to diminish the real impact of whooping cough on a four-week old infant; allocate blame on any agent other than the agent which kills – whooping cough – and it doesn’t matter if grieving parents get in the way. Anything to belittle the need for a vaccine. They did the same to Dana, and now they’re doing it to Riley. But, this is worse; this person is a registered health professional. So…

Here’s the rub, assholes:

1. Whooping cough kills babies. Period.

2. Stop denigrating wounded parents for your own ideological gains.

3. Shut the f**k up for a few weeks.

4. Repeat 3.

There are so many more examples to choose from, but, I’ll include a few to show the calibre of people with whom Andrews can sympathise. These are from The Today Show Facebook page. “Supposedly”. There’s that word:

Lulu supposedly

Here’s the grotesque competition website as has been used before:

Hillier Ian's voice

Here’s a relative of an AVN committee member concern trolling to push their ideology:

Marskell 1 Riley thread

Here is the University of Wollongong’s PhD student, Judy Wilyman, again claiming that the death of an infant from whooping cough is just an anecdote. Just the same as she did with Dana. Vaccination Choice is Wilyman’s anti-vaccination campaign page:

Wilyman 81 baby death an anecdote

On this Daily Telegraph article we find Rich, just asking questions; or JAQing off:

Rich 1 Riley's mum breastfeeding

When he gets an answer from Cath he still doesn’t stop. Why? Because we know he’s not interested in answers:

Rich 2 Cate

And because Rich doesn’t understand the point of the third trimester boosters, for each pregnancy, to confer some protection during the first six weeks of the baby’s life, he continues: making an invalid point is more important than answers, especially when you’re out to inflict hurt:

Rich 3 cont

If Rich’s argument looks familiar you need only compare it to the AVN’s number 1 troll, a thing which has been going after the McCafferys for over five years:

AVN 6923 NJ crowing over Riley's death

To Cath and Greg – and to Toni and Dave – I am so, so sorry that you have been introduced to the anti-vaccine movement through no fault of your own. As time goes by their barbs will be blunted by your own resilience. You will see them for what they are. Know that you have thousands of people upon whom you can lean and ask for support and guidance. You have our love and support.


Thank you to Wallace, again, for the tips and links.

Update March 24 2015

Having searched the profile image used in Rich’s comments on the Daily Telegraph article I can confirm that the disreputable individual is indeed a chiropractor by the name of Richard Dean. It appears he is currently studying in France. We’ll certainly keep an eye out for his return, given his treatment of grieving parents:

Rich 4 Fb profile chiropractor

Update March 25 2015

I forgot to add this comment from New England, US crackpot Cynthia Maurer. Maurer left this despicable, cruel comment on Riley’s memorial page the day after it started. It really is a different class of grub who  thinks that this is okay:

Maurer 2 Riley

Update March 30 2015

Strong supporter of the AVN, Rixta Francis, has written a blog post which is as wrong as it is awful. The March 26 post which rounds off by calling the whooping cough immunisation “crimes against humanity”, also contains this execrable claim:

Recently a baby in Australia died from whooping cough. It probably died from lack of breast milk and too much antibiotics, but let’s not discuss those details.

Francis 1 blog post baby probably died of a lack of breast milk

Anti-vaccinationists are terrible people.

Update April 12 2015

I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of weeks. Monique Grobbin, of Brisbane, featured in the Sunday Telegraph today due to her extraordinary flippant callousness:

Grobben 1 PMed Riley's mum


About reasonable hank

I'm reasonable, mostly.
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