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Resolved: Public health concerns justify compulsory immunizations

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/13/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,017 times Debate No: 10446
Debate Rounds (3)
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This debate will be executed in LD format. If you do not conscent to debating in LD format, please do not accept the debate. It will vary slightly from the true format, but it will have many of the same elements (Value, criterion, etc.)

Rd 1 Neg: Intro
Rd 1 Aff: Aff Constructive

Rd 2 Neg: Neg constructive and rebuttal
Rd 2 Aff: Rebuttal

Rd 3 Neg: Rebuttal/voters
Rd 3 Aff: Rebuttal/voters

Good luck!


In a 1974 a report ascribing 36 reactions to whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, a prominent public-health academic claimed that the vaccine was only marginally effective and questioned whether its benefits outweigh its risks, and extended television and press coverage caused a scare. Vaccine uptake in the UK decreased from 81% to 31% and whooping cough epidemics followed, leading to death

Public health concerns justify compulsory immunization. I affirm.

Definitions and observations

Public health: The approach to medicine that is concerned with the health of the community as a whole. Public health is community health. (MedTerms

Justify: To show a satisfactory reason or excuse for something done (Random House Dictionary of Law, 2009)

Compulsory: Required and mandated by law. Obligatory (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, 1996)

Immunization: Treatment of an organism for the purpose of making it immune to subsequent attack by a particular pathogen, typically achieved by introducing the organism to the living or dead pathogen.

OBSERVATION 1: The affirmative is not required to defend any specific immunization (flu, rubella, small pox, etc.), but rather is charged with defending the idea that immunization could ever be compelled. To add some clarity to the debate, I will defend making immunization compulsory when it meets the logical criteria set forth in the Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusettes as explained in the Cleveland State Law Review, (Alexis Osburn, Cleveland State Law Review, 2008, 56 Clev. St. L. Rev. 159, 18434 words, NOTE: IMMUNIZING AGAINST ADDICTION: THE ARGUMENT FOR INCORPORATING EMERGING ANTI-ADDICTION VACCINES INTO EXISTING COMPULSORY IMMUNIZATION STATUTES)
Of the various tests proposed to guide states in making compulsory vaccination decisions, the test that should be used is the one identified in Jacobson v. Massachusetts. n209 The human rights test does take more legally significant factors into account than the nature of the disease test, but many of the factors it uses are inconsistent with those identified by the Supreme Court in Jacobson. n210 For a state-mandated vaccination to be upheld, all that needs to be shown is that the four factors set forth in Jacobson are met: a public health threat, a remedy bearing a substantial relation to preventing the threat, an application that is not arbitrary and oppressive, and medical exemptions for "unfit" citizens. n211 Anti-addiction vaccines satisfy all four of these elements.

OBSERVATION 2: There are many instances when legitimate societies encroach on unfettered personal autonomy. This is the basis of all social contract theory. For example, in a state of nature, individuals have the right to personal retribution, but this right is relinquished to a society's law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to promote a greater good. Additionally, in a state of nature, individuals have unconstrained freedom of speech, but prohibiting an individual from exercising that freedom by falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater exists for the benefit of the greater good (namely those that would be trampled in the ensuing riot). The existence of these logical limits to personal autonomy make all negative claims of individual rights abuses non-unique, and delegitimize the idea of a slippery-slope to totalitarianism.

My core value is Governmental Legitimacy. Governmental legitimacy is the preferred value in the round because government is the only entity with the legitimate right to compel individuals to behave in specific ways--in this case, to be immunized.

Criterion is adherence to the fairness principle
A government's obligation is to maximize communal benefit while minimizing costs. The natural rights of individuals provide constraints to governmental action, and the fairness theory explains what governmental actions are justified. This is explained in the book Toward a Liberal Theory of Political Obligation, "Put simply, a fairness theorist suggests that (1) a state may permissibly coerce its citizens because this coercion benefits these same constituents and (2) each citizen must obey the law as part of her fair share in sustaining the state's ability to provide these benefits."


Subpoint A: Being immunized is 1000 to 100,000 TIMES safer for the individual than failing to get immunized.
Immunization therefore has substantial medical benefits for those individuals that receive them. Calandrillo, explains the dangers posed by diseases now preventable through immunizations substantially outweigh the risks introduced by vaccines. The CDC data indicate that vaccines are on the order of 1,000 to 100,000 times safer than running the risk of contracting any life-threatening diseases.

Subpoint B:Compulsory immunization benefits 4 classes of individuals who cannot receive their own immunizations for legitimate, medical reasons and the government has an obligation to protect these vulnerable populations from avoidable harms even if it means compelling some individuals to get immunized.
This is the basis of "herd immunity." Doctor Diekema, explainsbenefits provided by most vaccines extend beyond benefit to the individual who is immunized. There is also a significant public health benefit. Parents who choose not to immunize their own children increase the potential for harm to other persons in 4 important ways.14 First, should an unimmunized child contract disease, that child poses a potential threat to other unimmunized children. Second, even in a fully immunized population, a small percentage of immunized individuals will remain susceptible to disease. Third, some children cannot be immunized because of underlying medical conditions. These individuals derive important benefit from herd immunity and may be harmed by contracting disease from those who remain unimmunized. Finally, immunized individuals are harmed by the cost of medical care for those who choose not to immunize.

Subpoint C: Achieving an equal right to life among all populations will require a trade-off with unfettered autonomy, but that trade-off is unavoidable and justified.
Mann explains, "Freedom and equality, they contradict each other and can never come to an ideal union It is mankind's task to find a new equilibrium between them , in which it cannot be denied that the greatest possible realization of justice is met.

Because compulsory vaccinations benefit both the individual being compelled to get vaccinated and the entire community, it meets the first criteria of the fairness principle.


Subpoint A: Immunization saves billions of dollars.
Pasteur explains, "Vaccines certainly prevent death and suffering, but they also save money. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective health-care investments available. In the United States, cost-benefit analysis indicates that every dollar invested in a vaccine dose saves US$2 to US$27 in health-care expenses. The eradication of smallpox has saved the United States more than US$3 billion. The benefits are just as striking if one looks to the future.

Subpoint B: Immunizations benefit the economy in numerous ways. Harmon explains in Scientific American, "Immunization does not only save lives, it improves them," Houry, deputy executive director of UNICEF, said. It can also improve the health of a nation's economy. Even those who survive preventable childhood illnesses are often either physically disabled or less educated and are unable to contribute as much to the economy as

Subpoint C: Because compulsory immunization helps a government meet its obligations to citizens, it meets the second criteria of the fairness principle, and is an independent reason to affirm.
Debate Round No. 1


I will first build the negative case, then move on to attack the affirmative.

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master" –George Washington. It is because I agree with the late President Washington that I strongly negate today's resolution resolved, that public health concerns justify compulsory immunizations.

Allow me to further define the following terms:

Justify-to show to have had a legally sufficient reason or cause
Compulsory-mandatory action that is punishable if not participated in
Immunization-the injection of vaccines into the human bloodstream

The negative will uphold the value of maximizing Justice, pr giving each his due. While we will never achieve true justice, or any value for that matter, it is the value that we strive for.

The value will be supported by the criterion of upholding human rights. These rights are defined by several philosophers. The most commonly agreed upon rights are those to life, liberty, health, and property.

Contention 1: Compulsory Immunization makes worse the Problem of Class discrimination

By definition a compulsory action must have a punishment. Otherwise the action is no longer "compulsory" but "recommended" If there was no punishment for breaking laws then following them would no longer become compulsory. My argument is that the affirmative mindset will be furthering the marginalization of lower classes by placing them in a system of perpetual punishment.
Low-income communities will be directly hurt by compulsory immunization policies due to decreased access to medical care. Brietta R. Clark in 2005 explains. This fear is neither atypical nor irrational in light of one of the most visible, yet ignored, problems for minority communities - hospital closures and relocations. Increasingly, hospitals, private and public, have closed or terminated services in areas populated by minorities, while relocating services to more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods. These closures have primarily occurred in urban areas with the greatest need and least resources. Remaining hospitals willing to care for minorities or the poor are either located far enough away that timely care is effectively foreclosed or they are already overburdened and understaffed. Hospital closings and the disintegration of a medical framework is already an issue faced by the poor. Compulsory Immunization Policies will make this worse. Judge do you really believe that everyone across the globe could afford mandatory vaccinations? This idea is just absurd. MILLIONS of people die every day as a result of poverty. Now we want them to buy our mandatory vaccines? Not only is this quite absurd, it borders on genocide.

Contention 2 Immunizations pose health risks, and therefore should not be mandatory

Because vaccinations have been tested to show some severe health risks, it would be immoral, and therefore unjust to force people to accept the vaccinations, and should therefore not be compulsory. The United States federal government started the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in 1998 to track negative responses to vaccines, and thousands of negative reactions are reported each year. In 2008 alone, there were 30,009cases of severe side effects, including neurological brain damage. I have no idea why my opponent would force that kind of punishment on people.

Contention 3: Vaccinations crush religious and cultural ideals, and therefore should not be compulsory.

Some more conservative sects of Christianity believe that since vaccines are created with harsh chemicals, it would be defiling to your body to put them into your bloodstream. They believe that this is in direct opposition to God's will that we keep our bodies free of impurities. There is also a passage in the Bible that warns against mixing the blood of humans with the blood of animals, and since many vaccines are gestated in animals, this seems to contradict that particular teaching. Not to mention the Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu religions. Those religions especially have major problems with vaccinations. These were the same problems that led to the Sepoy Rebellion in India in 1857. Allow me to read some of the main ingredients of the Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccine. Ingredients include but are not limited to: Chick embryo culture, Human diploid lung cells, beef heart infusion, fetal bovine serum, and human albumin. MSG is also a main ingredient, of which an estimated 3% of the world's population is allergic to.
I fail to see any part of the resolution that allows for the upholding of human rights, or the promotion of justice itself. Because of this insurmountable fact, I urge you to cast a negative ballot. I will now move on to attack the affirmative case.

I reject my opponent's definition of "Justify" and substitute my own. As mine is taken from Black's Law Dictionary, I believe mine to be more credible.

I agree with the rest of his definitions, especially his definition of "Compulsory." In fact, my attack on his first observation is based on his own definition.

In my opponent's first observation, he states that mandatory immunizations are justified if there is "an application that is not arbitrary and oppressive, and medical exemptions for "unfit" citizens."
First of all, any mandatory violation of rights is oppressive. Secondly, his observation is incompetent with his definition of compulsory. He says that compulsory means obligatory, required and mandated by law. Yet he allows for exceptions? The resolution allows for NO exceptions under his own definition. (AS well as under my definition)

His second observation offers a weak example. His yelling fire in the theater example is nothing like compulsory immunizations. Yelling fire in a theater is illegal because it infringes upon others' rights, not simply because it is for the greater good. Likewise, compulsory immunizations ought not be enforced because they infringe upon people's rights.

My opponent's value in invalid since there is not a single government specified in the resolution. Are we talking about the US's government being legitimized? Are we talking about Iran's government being legitimized? If so, we are asking for nuclear attacks. (Which are generally frowned upon in the moral realm) Therefore, please look to my value. As it stands, my opponent has no case since he does not achieve his value. However, I will still attack his contentions with as many characters as I have left.

His Contention 1

A. He only says that getting immunized is safer than not getting immunized. If that is the case, then he government should have no reason to force people to get the vaccines if they are relatively safe and effective. There is no need to violate people's rights.

B. I will address Herd Immunity in greater detail in the next round. Other than that, my opponent is advocating for the violation of people's rights in order to help the few people who cannot be immunized. This:
a-violates more rights than it gives, and in greater numbers
b-contradicts his definition of compulsory. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS under the resolution.

C. What is this equal right to life that you are speaking about? Compulsory immunizations provide an equal opportunity to death!

His 2nd contention

A. LD is a moral debate, not an economic debate. We are not debating money.

B. He makes no new points, but only restates his case.

C. Compulsory immunizations do not help the government meet its obligation, since immunizations cause death and lack of health, autonomy, liberty, among a slough of other rights. How is taking those rights away meeting the obligation to citizens?

I apologize for my bluntness on some rebuttals, but I have only a few characters left. I will go into greater detail if needed in the ensuing rounds. I defer to the affirmative.


IrishMafia forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


That's too bad. Extend.


IrishMafia forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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