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This House would permit the use of performance enhancing drugs in

professional sports
At least as far back as Ben Johnson's steroid scandal at the 1988 Olympics, the use of
performance-enhancing drugs in sports had entered the public psyche. Johnson's world record
sprint, his win, and then, the stripping of his gold medal made news around the world. However,
performance-enhancing drugs in sports do not begin with Johnson. A quick overview of drugs in
sports reveals the earlier use of questionable substances; some even argue that drugs in sports
date back to the earliest Olympic games.
An alarming number of sports today, baseball, football, track and field, and especially cycling,
have been shaken by doping scandals in recent years. Several Olympic champions were stripped
of their medals as a result of positive drugs tests. Although attention is often focused upon
athletics, almost all sports have a drug problem and devote considerable energy to testing
competitors regularly, banning those who fail them. An anonymous survey conducted by the
U.S. Anti-Doping agency revealed that about one tenth of all athletes admit to having used drugs,
even though illegal (2). Nonetheless, doubts remain as to the effectiveness of these tests and the
fairness of some of the resulting bans, and some argue the whole approach is deeply flawed.
Performance-enhancing drugs include steroids (the male hormone testosterone), Human-growth
hormone (HGH), recombinant erythropoietin (r-EPO), an artificial hormone and other drugs
taken to build muscle-bulk during training, and stimulants or blood-doping taken to improve
performance in competition. Authorities tend to deal with this problem in different ways, for
example, for the Tour de France cycling competition all sportsmen were deemed suspicious and
ranked on a list from 1 to 10 (1), others impose random tests on athletes. The market for
performance enhancing drugs, such as EPO (erythropoietin) is big, in 2001 alone, EPO--
generated more than $5 billion for inventor Amgen (2). Question is what is the appropriate
measure to deal with performance enhancing drugs is there a way to control them and is there
any sense in controlling them at all.
Most such drugs have some medical uses and are prescribed legally in certain non-athletic
contexts; it is unlikely that a Proposition would also wish to legalize recreational drugs such as
cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, although all of these could be regarded as performance-
enhancing in certain sporting contexts.
Athletes should be free to take risks when training and competing
Freedom of choice: If athletes wish to take drugs in search of improved performances, let them
do so. They harm nobody but themselves and should be treated as adults, capable of making
rational decisions upon the basis of widely-available information.
Even if there are adverse health effects in the long-term, this is also true of tobacco, alcohol and
boxing, which remain legal. We allow world class athletes to train for 23 hours a week (on
average), adjust their diets and endanger themselves by pushing the boundaries of their body. We
let them do it, because it is what they chose which is best for them. According to the NFL Player
Association the average life expectancy of an NFL player is 58 years of age (1). Thus already we
allow athletes to endanger their lives, give them the choice of a lifestyle. Why not also extend
this moral precedent to drugs?
1. Judd Bissiotto, 15 Surprising facts about world athletes,
Simple analogy: If a person were to kill himself for the sake of entertaining the crowd, this act
would still be considered illegal by the government and efforts to hinder and discourage it would
be created.
An appropriate example is the one of dangers of alcohol and tobacco, which were not known
until after they had become normalized in society. Once the dangers were known, the public
were so used to it, that they wouldnt condone a ban by the State. If alcohol were introduced
tomorrow it would be banned, as shown by the attitude towards narcotics and steroid use has
shown. Governments have tried to reduce sales by having high levels of tax on tobacco and
alcohol anyway. Moreover many states are restricting choice in tobacco and alcohol by
introducing limited bans, such as on smoking in public places. The proposition cannot use the
fact that tobacco and alcohol are legal as a defense of the use of drugs. This should be seen as an
equally detrimental act and thus illegal.
There is no distinction between "natural" and synthetic methods of performance enhancement
The natural/unnatural distinction is untenable. Already athletes use all sorts of dietary
supplements, exercises, equipment, clothing, training regimes, medical treatments, etc. to
enhance their performance. There is nothing natural about taking vitamin pills, wearing whole-
body Lycra suits, having surgery on ligaments, spending every day in a gym pumping weights or
running in shoes with spikes on the bottom. Diet, medicine, technology, and even just coaching
already give an artificial advantage to those athletes who can afford the best of all these aids.
Since there is no clear way to distinguish from legitimate and illegitimate artificial aids to
performance, they should all be allowed. So taking these drugs is no more unnatural than what
happens today.

A practical example of an unnatural aid is the Speedo worn in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics.
FINA, the world governing body of swimming was concerned about the extraordinary statistics
in Beijing where swimmers wearing the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit won 90 per cent of all
available medals and broke 23 world records. Since Speedo launched the suit in 2008, 108 world
records have fallen (until February 2009) (1).
1. Simon Hart, Swimwear giant Speedo hit back at 'unfair advantage' claims, 02/19/2009,
It is true that it is difficult to decide where to draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate
performance enhancement. However we should continue to draw a line nonetheless. This line
should be drawn at protecting athletes from harmful drugs and preserving the spirit of fair play
and unaided competition between human beings in their peak of natural fitness. Eating a
balanced diet and wearing the best shoes are clearly in a different category from taking steroids
and growth hormones. We should continue to make this distinction and aim for genuine drug-
free athletic competitions.
Controlling, rather than ignoring, performance enhancing substances will improve
competitive standards in sport
The use of performance enhancing drugs is based on advances in science. When new drugs and
therapies are found, athletes turn to them and as a result are much of the time ahead of the anti-
doping organizations, which need to develop methods of athlete testing whenever a new drug
that is meant to be untraceable is created. In 2008 it was a big shock when Riccardo Ricco (a
cyclist) was caught using the performance-enhancing drug Mircera, which had been considered
undetectable for a number of years.
The fact is that a ban of performance enhancing drugs enables mainly athletes from wealthy
countries and teams that can afford the newest technology to go undetected, whilst others are
disadvantaged (1). So because it gives an unfair advantage to the wealthy one who can pay for
the undetectable drugs, we should legalize it.
1. Millard Baker, Riccardo Ricco Tests Positive
Rich athletes from wealthier countries will always have access to the latest, highest quality
performance enhancers. On the other side, athletes from poorer countries which do not have the
same medical and scientific advances will not be able to keep up. They will always be at a
disadvantage regardless of whether performance enhancing drugs are legal or not.
Improving safety standards in sport
It does not take a lot for chemists to produce performance enhancing drugs, the Scientific
American reports: Rogue scientists start with testosterone or its commercially available
analogues and then make minor structural modifications to yield similarly active derivatives.
The underground chemists make no effort to test their creations for effectiveness or safety, of
course. Production of a simple new steroid compound would require "lab equipment costing
maybe $50,000 to $100,000,". Depending on the number of chemical reactions needed for
synthesis, "some of them could be made in a week or two. Others might take six months to a
year."(1) As a result of legalizing performance-enhancing drugs a backstreet industry can
become regulated as a result there will be much more control and testing to ensure the health and
safety of the athletes who take the drugs.
1. Steven Ashley, Doping by Design, Scientific American 01/12/2004,, accessed 05/19/2011
There will always be a black market for cheaper or for new untested drugs that will give an
athlete an edge before others have a chance to try it. Legalization is therefore unlikely to result in
large health benefits as the competitiveness of sport will always result in athletes being willing to
take a risk.
The show and the celebration of human physical achievement is what makes sport enjoyable to
the public. The reason people enjoy sport is because it is a demonstration of what other fellow
human beings can achieve and what humans can achieve collectively, as a species.
A spectacle is designed to amaze. It doesnt need to be human achievement to be amazing (no
one would call monster truck driving a sport). So, when humans start taking drugs to improve
performance, it is no longer a sport, it is a spectacle, because there is no human physical
achievement, but instead a chemical achievement.

It also becomes a celebration not of human physical achievement, but of human intellectual
achievement, of who can design the best drugs. Even with fancy running shoes, we are still
celebrating human achievement, which will not happen once you take it to the extreme of
allowing drug use.
This doesnt benefit athletes in the long run. Athletes wont be celebrated but scientists will!
Sport is also about the spectacle for spectators.
Sport has become a branch of the entertainment business and the public demands higher, faster,
stronger from athletes. If drug-use allows world records to be continually broken, and makes
American Football players bigger and more exciting to watch, why deny the public what they
want, especially if the athletes want to give it to them?
The criterion that athletes should only be applying their natural abilities runs into trouble. The
highly advanced training technologies, health programs, sports drinks, use of such things as
caffeine pills, and other energy boosters seem to defeat the notion that athletes are currently
applying only their 'natural abilities'. Performance enhancing drugs would not go too far beyond
the current circumstances for athletes.
Permitting the use of performace enhancers would have a coercive effect on athletes who
would otherwise avoid drug use
Once some people choose to use drugs to enhance their performance, other athletes have their
freedom of choice infringed upon: if they want to succeed they have to take drugs too. Athletes
are very driven individuals, who would go to great lengths to achieve their goals. The chance of
a gold medal in two years time may out-weigh the risks of serious health problems for the rest
of their life. We should protect athletes from themselves and not allow anyone to take
performance-enhancing drugs. An example of the pressure is cycling. The American Scientific
magazine explains: Game theory highlights why it is rational for professional cyclists to dope:
the drugs are extremely effective as well as difficult or impossible to detect; the payoffs for
success are high; and as more riders use them, a clean rider may become so noncompetitive
that he or she risks being cut from the team. (1)

Michael Shermer, The Dopping Dillema, 03/31/2008, accessed 05/15/2011
There is no such thing as a forced decision. Everyone has complete control over their own body
and their own decisions. Everyone has an absolute right to possession of ones own body. If you
own your body then you can choose what to do with it, and any exchange, such as money to an
employer in exchange for use of your body (labour) is justified, because it was a voluntary
exchange and you still possess yourself. If you choose to take drugs, you have not been forced
into it no matter the peer pressure you may be under or that other having taken the drugs may
make you uncompetitive.
Laws should in general protect people from making uninformed decisions. Due to the potential
severe consequences the ban has to be upheld. An analogy with the seatbelt can be used: the
government forces people to use them, because of the possibility of severe injury in case we do
not use it.
The use of performance-enhancing drugs is the opposite use can lead to severe health
Thus, if all people are treated as equals under law, then the law should equally protect athletes as
the law does other would- be drug users.
Equality before law also means athletes cant be exempt from the moral standards we have for
others. Firstly due to value of life and secondly because many times athletes themselves are not
aware of the severe consequences of performance enhancing drugs.

BBC Drugs and Sports (GCSE
ort_rev1.shtml , accessed 05/15/2011
Sport is dangerous. Todays athletes decide to endanger their lives by participating in sports all
the time. They decide to participate in sports with the informed decision that they might get hurt
as it is part of the sport. Performance enhancing drugs are no different.
In the USA every year there are nearly 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Athletes involved in sports such as football, hockey and boxing are at significant risk of TBI due
to the high level of contact inherent in these sports. Head injuries are also extremely common in
sports such as cycling, baseball, basketball and skateboarding. Many head injuries acquired,
playing these sports, lead to permanent brain damage or worse. Yet we do not impose a law to
ban athletes from participating in those sports. We trust their assessment of risk (1).

All about Traumatic Brain Injuries:
injury/, accessed 05/15/2011
Protecting young and vulnerable athletes
Even if performance-enhancing drugs were only legalized for adults, the definition of this varies
from country to country, something which would be problematic for sports that are global.
Teenage athletes train alongside adult ones and share the same coaches, so many would succumb
to the temptation and pressures to use drugs, if these were widely available and effectively
endorsed by legalization. Not only are such young athletes unable to make a fully rational,
informed choice about drug-taking, the health impacts upon growing bodies would be even
worse than for adult users. It would also send a positive message about drug culture in general,
making the use of recreational drugs with all their accompanying evils more widespread.
The temptation of youth to try illegal substances is not just a problem in sports. In all
environments you will have age restrictions.
To say that we should uphold the ban for the sake of children is as if we would advocate a ban of
alcohol for everyone, because some teenagers like to socialize with adults who are legally able to
drink alcohol. There is always going to be an age restriction and it is the duty of institutions,
trainers and athletes to uphold it, so that later in life as adults, athletes can make an informed
This House Would Make Vaccination Compulsory
In the United Kingdom, the percentage of children who have had already at least one dose of the
measles, mumps and rubella vaccination by their second birthdays was 88.2 % in 2009 2010. A
much higher number than in 2008-2009 (84.9 %) or in 2003-2004 (79.9 %). The WHO (World
Health Organization) suggests, that for a successful protection of the community 95 % of
children need to have the jab.[1]
Vaccines represent one of the most successful and effective interventions in medicine and a
lucrative business opportunity for many pharmaceutical companies. By vaccinating people,
society has been able to eradicate numerous diseases that caused millions of deaths before.
A dramatic example is smallpox, which was responsible for some of the most formidable
epidemics of humankind. In 1967 it was the cause of 2 million deaths; a decade later it was
totally eradicated from the planet by a concerted global vaccination program[2]. Many countries
have thus made it compulsory for people to be vaccinated against various diseases.
As of 2009 children in the US, Australia, Spain and Greece must have proof of vaccination
before entering the public school system, although it is becoming easier in many states for
parents to gain exemptions from this requirement. In the UK there is no such requirement
Prior to a vaccine for polio, between 13,000 and 20,000 cases were reported in the USA
annually. In 1988, the World Health Organization decided to try and eradicate polio worldwide
with vaccination, and as of today, the disease has been removed from the USA, Western Pacific
and Europe. Only four countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria, India and Pakistan) are endemic, and
there are just 2000 cases reported worldwide annually as of 2009.[4]
But by stopping vaccination before the disease is widely eradicated leaves countries susceptible
to future unexpected outbreaks. Another common disease measles, affected nearly everyone in
the United States prior to the vaccination being introduced. Between 1953 and 1963, there were
450 deaths each year from the disease. Currently in the US, three of every 1000 people who
contract measles will die, whilst in the developing world, one in 100 will die. It is estimated that
90% of people who are exposed to the virus will get infected if not vaccinated against it. In 1999
according to the WHO, there were 900,000 measles related deaths worldwide. Measles can
spread rapidly amongst unvaccinated populations, and if vaccinations were stopped, the WHO
estimate there could be 2.7 million measles related deaths worldwide annually[5].
Type B meningitis was prior to the vaccine the most common form of bacterial meningitis in US
infants, with 20,000 annual cases, with one in 600 proving either fatal or leaving the child with
some form of disability. Since the vaccine became available in 1987, the number of cases has
reduced by 98%, with fewer than ten fatalities a year.[6] These are just a few examples of how
vaccines can prevent and eradicate diseases that have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths
throughout the past century. Although some may argue that with diseases such as Polio wiped
out in most of the world a vaccine is not necessary. However any reduction in the number of
people vaccinated against the disease would leave a window of opportunity for the disease to
rear its head up once again.
Even though benefits are much greater if everyone is vaccinated than if not, some people choose
not to be vaccinated, and have concerns about certain vaccines. Simultaneously the number of
people vaccinated rose as did the movements against the notion of compulsory vaccination, such
as the society of Anti Vaccinations (1798) and the Anti- Vaccination League (1853).
There should be as few obstacles as possible to such a program in order to save as many lives as
possible. Some might argue that, that the government should not be able to force someone to
have a needle stuck into them? They might also say that if they wish to take the risk of not
having the vaccine that is their choice. However many claim, that because the risks do not just
affect them, but the people around them, people should not be allowed to choose vaccines on
their own. So, this essentially this debate boils down to personal liberty vs. the good of the entire
[1] Jane Kirby, More Children Having MMR vaccine, 11/30/2010,, accessed
[2] Smallpox. World Health Organisation.
[3] Steven Novella, Should Vaccines Be Compulsary, 06/03/2009,
compulsory/, accessed 05/25/2011
[4] Polio and prevention.
[5] Measles.
[6] CDC- Meningitis: Questions and Answers.
In most countries and declarations, one of the most basic human rights is the one to bodily
integrity. It sets down that you have a right not to have your body or person interfered with. This
means that the State may not do anything to harm your body without consent.
The NHS (National Health Service) explains: You must give your consent (permission) before
you receive any type of medical treatment, from a simple blood test to deciding to donate your
organs after your death. If you refuse a treatment, your decision must be respected.
This comes from the principle, that if a person has the capacity to consent to treatment and is
making an informed decision (based on pros and cons of the treatment), the decision must be
respected. The NHS explains further on: If you have enough capacity and make a voluntary and
informed decision to refuse a treatment, your decision must be respected. This applies even if
your decision would result in your death, or the death of your unborn child.[1]
In the case of vaccination this principle should be also applied. Even though we recognize that
children are not able to fully comprehend the consequences a refusal would have, the parents
should be there to decide on behalf of children over such decisions. The state has no right to stick
a needle into a child just because they see fit doing so. It might be contested that in case of life
endangering illnesses, the state should override the individuals rights. But rejection of
vaccinations is not life endangering. So it is the judgment of the individual that is important and
should not under any case be violated, just because someone might get an illness that in todays
modern world is easily curable.

[1] National Health Service (NHS), Do I have a right to refuse treatment ?,, accessed

If an age group is protected, that results in a better health conditions for the whole society.
In an industrialized country such as the USA, those choosing exemption from statutorily
compulsory vaccination were 35-times more likely to contract measles than vaccinated persons;
in developing countries where these viruses are still endemic, the risk would be considerably
Those who wish to opt-out of vaccination (often on behalf of their children, who have no say in
the matter) are classic free riders, hoping to benefit from the more responsible behavior of the
rest of society. As it is assumed that most of society see it as a responsibility and a duty to
protect others.
After a scare about possible side effects of the MMR jab, in 2008 there was a drop in voluntary
vaccinations in a part of London (Lewisham). In that part of London only 64.3 % of children
were vaccine and in that year the district accounted one third of all south-east London measles
cases. Unless there is a 95 % vaccination, there is a great threat to public health of infection
outbreaks.[2] It is therefore the role of the state to understand these issues and possible treats and
provide a duty of protection and care, in this case, in the form of immunization.
Another example of the need to protect is also given by the example of voluntary vaccination
against the flu, because of its impacts on the whole population is given by Pediatric studies: In
several studies, results indicated that a 100% vaccination rate among health care personnel in
acute care settings triggered a 43% decline in risk of influenza among patients. This decrease
appeared even higher 60% among nursing home patients.[3]
So by giving up some of the individuals freedoms and the feeling of duty to protection, the
community is much more protected and benefits from the vaccination of the community.

[1] Vaccination Critics & Opponents.
[2] BBC News, Experts warn of measles outbreaks,
03/18/2008, accessed

[3] Talbot TR. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol., Two medical societies back mandatory flu
vaccination for health care workers, published 2010,, accessed 05/27/2011

A great deal of health care and prevention of diseases is information and an informed decision.
The United Kingdom does not have a system of compulsory health care, but disease outbreaks
are still prevented due to the voluntary uptake of immunizations. The pediatrician Miriam Fine-
Goulden explains: The risk of contracting these infections is only so low at present because the
voluntary uptake of immunizations has been high enough (in most cases) to reduce the chance of
contact with those organisms through the process of herd immunity.[1]
Also it can be argued that measles, mumps and rubella (one of the diseases vaccine against) are
far from harmful. They are relatively minor illnesses[2]. Measles causes a rash and high fever.
Mumps causes swollen glands, headache and fever. Rubella is usually mild and can go
Just because medical advance has been made in vaccinations it does not mean that we have to be
immunized against every little disease known to man. Bearing in mind the cost of such jabs on
the heavily burdened NHS, surely it would be better to not make the MMR jab compulsory. This
way we keep parents happy and the NHS budget can be stretched further.
Researches also show that alternative approaches towards diseases such as better nutrition,
homeopathy, etc. give very positive results. Healthier populations would not need vaccines to
fight a disease. High profits that are now reserved only for the pharmaceutical industry would be
spread to other areas of the economy, such as agriculture and the service sector, and more people
would gain.

[1] Miriam Fine-Goulden: Should childhood vaccinations be compulsory in the UK ?, University
Goulden__Vaccination_Publish.pdf, accessed 05/29/2011
[2] BBC News, Should the MMR vaccine be compulsory,
03/02/2002,, accessed 05/29/2011
As article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states, State parties
shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to health services.[1]
Each year millions of children worldwide die of preventable diseases before the age of five.
The argument presented here is that the state needs to protect the child and immunize him or her
from preventable diseases as obviously the child does not have the capabilities at this stage to
make informed decisions of their own.
The United Nations Right to Liberty and Security of the Person treaty, article 6.2 supports this
view - State Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of
the child.[2]
It is up to the State to decide if a child is to be immunized, as overall it will be the State who
would benefit from having the vast majority of its citizens vaccinated, and it will be the State
who will have to pay for any treatment needed to treat a preventable disease. Whilst a childs
parents have to a certain degree the right to decide what is best for their childs future, poor
decision making in this area could result in serious medical issues for the nation. In this
extremely important area, the State must have authority over the rights of the parent.

[1] Convention on the Rights of the Child.
[2] Right to Liberty and Security of Person.
Compulsory vaccination is an example of the tyranny of the majority even if it is made by a
democratic government. And in a community that praises itself as democratic and respectful to
wishes of others it is in no way acceptable that the rights of some get abused by the wishes of
John Stuart Mill has set philosophical basics: the majority the people, consequently, may
desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as
against any other abuse of power In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence
is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.[1]
The state (or the majority) can only dictate to the individual is if that individuals actions
adversely affect the collective. Therefore the question is what is the purpose of the vaccination?
if it is to provide individuals with their own protection then autonomy of decision-making and
individual liberty should predominate as guiding principles.
Under these circumstances there can be little justification of any coercion on the part of public
health officials, in particular the use of mandatory vaccination legislation. If it is more based
upon public harm i.e. the more chance of the virus infecting from one human to another then the
less this defense can be used.[2]

[1] Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. London: Longman, Roberts & Green, 1869;,
1999. 2nd October, 2009, Chapter 1, paragraph 9
[2] University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, Medical ethics experts identify, address key
issues in H1N1 pandemic, FirstScience News 23rd September 2009
identify-address-key-issues-in-h1n1-pandemic-page-3-1_71059.html, accessed 05/29/2011

Commonly-used vaccines are a cost-effective and preventive way of promoting health, compared
to the treatment of acute or chronic disease. In the U.S. during the year 2001, routine childhood
immunizations against seven diseases were estimated to save over $40 billion per birth-year
cohort in overall social costs including $10 billion in direct health costs, and the societal benefit-
cost ratio for these vaccinations was estimated to be 16.5 billion.[1]
Another aspect is also, that productivity rates remain high and less money is earmarked for social
and health transfers because people are healthier. This is also supported by a WHO study, that
claims: We calculate that the average percentage increase in income for the children whose
immunization coverage increases through will rise from 0.78 per cent in 2005 to 2.39 per cent by
2020. This equates to an increase in annual earnings per child of $14 by 2020. The total increase
in income per year once the vaccinated cohort of children start earning will rise from $410
million in 2005 to $1.34 billion by 2020 (at a cost of $638 million in 2005 and $748 million in
2020).[2] This study based on economic and health indicators is part of the world immunization
program GAVI.

[1] Wikipedia. Vaccine Controversy.
[2] David Bloom, David Canning and Mark Weston, The value of immunization, World
Economics, July September
eston.pdf, accessed 05/28/2011

Vaccines themselves are expensive to develop in the lab and to mass produce for widespread
compulsory vaccination programs. In addition to these upfront costs, organizing compulsory
vaccination programs across an entire country can be very complicated and expensive. For
instance, mechanisms must be set in place to ensure that the program is indeed compulsory,
which means establishing a database of those that have and have not received the vaccine.
Through birth, the child and the parent have a binding agreement that is supported within the
society. This agreement involves a set of rights and duties aimed at, and justified by, the welfare
of the child. Through that (according to texts from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):
parents owe their children an open future, understood as one where they become adults
capable of choosing their own conception of the good. As custodian, the parent is under a limited
obligation to work and organize his or her life around the welfare and development of the child,
for the child's sake. Concomitantly, the parent is endowed with a special kind of authority over
the child.[1]
It therefore is the courtesy of a parent to decide what the best possible outcome is for a child. If
the parent believes the child will be safer and better off in society without being given vaccine it
is the parents right to decide not to give vaccination to the child.
Also the American Academy of Pediatrics reports, that refusing the immunization might not put
children at risk, as long as they live in a well immunized community and can benefit from the
herd immunity. They state: Even in a community with high immunization rates, the risk
assumed by an unimmunized child is likely to be greater than the risks associated with
immunization. However, the risk remains low, and in most cases the parent who refuses
immunizations on behalf of his or her child living in a well-immunized community does not
place the child at substantial risk of serious harm.[2]

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,, accessed
[2] Diekema Douglas, Responding to Parental Refusals of Immunization of Children,, accessed 05/28/2011
An adult vaccine refusal and a parental vaccine refusal are not the same. Parents do not have
absolute right to put their child at a risk even if they themselves are willing to accept such a risk
for him or herself.
Minors have a right to be protected against infectious diseases and society has the responsibility
to ensure welfare of children who may be harmed by their parents decisions.
Counseling should form an integral part of any such legislation, as often it is not conviction but
laziness of the parents in taking their child to the clinic for immunization or the parents inability
to make an informed decision.[1]
Also the state has already protected children in cases, when their functioning later as an adult
could be compromised due to parental actions. For instance: in order to promote culturally
prescribed norms, parents may seek to remove their child from school, or have their daughter
undergo clitoridectomy; yet the state may claim that such a decision violates the parents' trustee
relationship on grounds that the state has a compelling interest in securing the full citizenship
capacities and rights of each of its citizens. As trustee, the parent has a limited right to
exclusivity in determining the child's life over the course of childhood, but this determination is
to be aimed at shaping the child into (for instance) a productive citizen and community member.
The LSU Law center also explains: The more difficult problem is religious or cultural groups
that oppose immunizations. These groups tend to cluster, reducing the effective immunization
level in their neighborhoods, schools, and churches. In addition to endangering their own
children, such groups pose a substantial risk to the larger community. By providing a reservoir of
infection, a cluster of unimmunized persons can defeat the general herd immunity of a
community. As these infected persons mix with members of the larger community, they will
expose those who are susceptible to contagion.[3]

As seen not to vaccine children can represent a danger for their future, there should be no
ultimate power of parents to prevent vaccine jabs.

[1] Lahariya C, Mandatory vaccination: is it the future reality ?, Singapore medical journal
(editorial) 2008,, accessed 05/25/2011
[2] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,, accessed
[3]Louisiana State University (LSU), Compulsory Immunization,, accessed 05/29/2011
Some of the used vaccines may have severe side effects, therefore we should let every individual
asses the risk and make choices on his/her own. Besides introducing foreign proteins and even
live viruses into the bloodstream, each vaccine has its own preservative, neutralizer and carrying
agent, none of which are indigenous to the body. For instance, the triple antigen, DPT, which
includes Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus vaccine, contains the following poisons: Formaldehyde,
Mercury, and aluminum phosphate, and that's from the Physician's Desk Reference, 1980. The
packet insert accompanying the vaccine, lists the following poisons: aluminum potassium
sulfate, a mercury derivative called Thimersol and sodium phosphate. The packet insert for the
polio vaccine lists monkey kidney cell culture, lactalbumin hydrozylate, antibiotics and calf
serum. The packet insert for the MMR vaccine produced by Merck Sharp and Dhome which is
for measles, mumps and rubella lists chick embryo and neomycin, which is a mixture of
Evidence also suggests that immunizations damage the immune system itself. By focusing
exclusively on increased antibody production, which is only one aspect of the immune process,
immunizations isolate dysfunction and allow it to substitute for the entire immune response,
because vaccines trick the body so that it will no longer initiate a generalized response. They
accomplished what the entire immune system seems to have been evolved to prevent. That is,
they place the virus directly into the blood and give it access to the major immune organs and
tissues without any obvious way of getting rid of it.
The long-term persistence of viruses and other foreign proteins within the cells of the immune
system has been implicated in a number of chronic and degenerative diseases. In 1976 Dr.
Robert Simpson of Rutgers university addressed science writers at a seminar of the American
Cancer Society, and pointed out the following. "Immunization programs against flu, measles,
mumps, polio and so forth may actually be seeding humans with RNA to form latent pro viruses
in cells throughout the body. These latent pro viruses could be molecules in search of diseases,
including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Parkinson's disease, and perhaps
Vaccines may cause a child who is genetically predisposed to have autism. If the trend of
increased Thimerosal in vaccinations correlates so well with the trend of increased autistic
diagnoses, there is a link. Thimerosal in vaccinations (which means 'contains mercury') causes
autism. Too many times has a child been completely healthy, and then a vaccine containing
Thimerosal is injected into the child. The child becomes ill, stops responding visually and
verbally, and is then diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

[1] Roger R. Gervais. Understanding the Vaccine Controversy. Natural MAgainse May/June
[2] Alex Loglia, Global healing center,
hour-of-the-time.html, accessed 28/05/2011
The argument of bad vaccines is a very popular one. However, scientifically seen this
arguments is flawed in many aspects.
First of all many of the examples used in arguments suggesting vaccination is dangerous and
therefore should not be used, is very old. Many refer to examples from the 60s or 70s, which in
medicine is highly flawed as science every few years significantly advances, improves the level
of knowledge and reduces possible side effects. And even though many believe in the damages
caused by vaccines retrospective studies disprove this point:
1. Autism
Scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Center for Infection and
Immunity and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts
General Hospital, and Trinity College Dublin, evaluated bowel tissues from 25 children with
autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone (controls) by real-time
reverse transcription (RT)-PCR for the presence of measles virus RNA. Samples were analyzed
in three laboratories blinded to diagnosis, including one wherein the original findings suggesting
a link between measles virus and autism had been reported. [1]
"Our results are inconsistent with a causal role for MMR vaccine as a trigger or exacerbate of
either GI difficulties or autism," states Mady Hornig, associate professor of Epidemiology and
director of translational research in the Center for Infection and Immunity in the Mailman
School, and co-corresponding author of the study. "The work reported here eliminates the
remaining support for the hypothesis that autism with GI complaints is related to MMR vaccine
exposure. We found no relationship between the timing of MMR vaccine and the onset of either
GI complaints or autism.[2]
Many parents came to believe that vaccines caused their children's autism because the symptoms
of autism appeared after the child received a vaccination. On a psychological level, that
assumption and connection makes sense; but on a logical level, it is a clear and common fallacy
with a fancy Latin name: post hoc ergo propter hoc ("after this, therefore because of it"). They
just need someone to blame for the disease of their child.[3]
2. Allergies and vaccines
A recent (2011) study of a German Health Institute concludes that in comparing the occurrence
of infections and allergies in vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adolescents. These
include bronchitis, eczema, colds, and gastrointestinal infection. The only difference they found
is that unvaccinated children and adolescents differ from their vaccinated peers merely in terms
of the frequency of vaccine preventable diseases. These include pertussis, mumps, or measles.
As expected, the risk of contracting these diseases is substantially lower in vaccinated children
and adolescents.[4]

[1] Science Daily, No connection between Measels, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine and
Autism, Study suggests
[2] Ibid.
[3]Benjamin Radford, Autism and sciences: Why bad Logic Trumps Science, 09/05/2008
[4] Deutsches Aerzteblatt International (2011, March 7). Vaccinated children not at higher risk
of infections or allergic diseases, study suggests. ScienceDaily.
/releases/2011/03/110304091458.htm, accessed May 28, 2011
This House would ban partial birth abortions
This issue is about late-term abortions, in the second and third trimesters. At least 90% of
abortions are performed in the first trimester, when other procedures are more appropriate. In
partial-birth abortion (PBA), also known as Dilation and Extraction (D&X), the woman's cervix
is dilated, and the foetus is partially removed from the womb, feet first. The surgeon inserts a
sharp object into the back of the foetus' head, removes it, and inserts a vacuum tube through
which the brain is extracted. The head of the foetus contracts at this point and allows the foetus
to be more easily removed from the womb. [1] The main justifications for the use of D&X are:
that the foetus is dead; that continued pregnancy will endanger the life of the mother; that
continued pregnancy will adversely affect the mothers health; that the foetus is so malformed
that it will never gain consciousness after birth. More controversial is the use of the technique for
healthy foetuses when the mothers life is not at risk. This is banned by several state Medical
Associations in the US, but many physicians have reported performing them, mainly for women
who are suicidally depressed, but also for rape victims and for very young pregnant women.
It is estimated that about 3,000 partial-birth abortions were performed per year in the United
States in the 1990s[2] (though this represents around 0.2% of the total number of abortions).[3]
Bill Clinton vetoed bills banning partial-birth abortions in 1995, 1997 and 1999. George W.
Bush signed a partial-birth abortion ban into law in 2003, and this was found constitutional in
2007 by the US Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood Federation of America v. Gonzales[4]
(largely reversing the Court's decision in a 2000 case on state law)[5]. Although this is not
necessarily a US-specific debate, the issue is on the political agenda in the USA to an extent
which is not matched elsewhere, and some of the arguments here reflect this.
In running this debate (and with all other abortion debates) it is necessary to consider whether or
not an exception will be made for medical necessity.
NB In addition to the arguments below, this debate may well employ arguments from debates
about abortion in general consult the entry for Abortion in debatabase, and the materials
linked to from there.

[1] The Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Abortion,
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health,
[2] Alabama Policy institute, Partial-Birth Abortions, 2007
[3] Finer and Henshaw, Abortion Incidence and Serevices in the United States in 2000,
[4] Supreme Court of the United States, Gonzales, Attorney General v. Carhart et al. 18 April
[5] Schonhardt-Bailey, Cheryl, The Congressional debate on partial-birth abortion:
constitutional gravitas and moral passion, British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 38 no. 3,
pp.383-410, p.384,
The foetus feels pain
Partial-birth abortion is disgusting. Like all abortions, it involves the killing of an unborn child,
but unlike first trimester abortions there is no doubt that the foetus can feel pain by the third
trimester.[1] The procedure involves sticking a pair of scissors into a babys brain, enlarging the
hole, sucking the brain out with a catheter and then crushing the skull. It is entirely unacceptable
to do this to a living human being. Psychological damage to the mother as a result of rape or
teenage pregnancy or depression is in the end less significant than the physical damage - death -
caused to the child.
[1] Lee, Susan J., et al., Fetal Pain, A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence,
Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 294 (8), 2005, http://jama.ama-

Nobody would choose to have a partial-birth abortion over a much simpler abortion in the first
trimester. Partial-birth abortions are either medically or psychologically necessary. If a young
mother either does not find out she is pregnant or is too scared to tell anyone, if a woman is
raped and decides at any stage that she does not want the baby, if a woman is threatening suicide
if she is forced to carry a baby to term, we should not make her suffer further by forbidding her
from ending the pregnancy. For all sorts of reasons, many women do not seek any kind of
medical help until late in their pregnancy - this should not mean they forfeit their right to an
abortion. In any case, if abortion is allowed at all, and given that the foetus is not recognised in
law as a human being, it should be nobodys business but the mothers whether and at what stage
she chooses to have an abortion.
If personhood accrues at birth, then abortion after inducing birth is wrong
If birth is the crucial dividing-line we use to decide when legal personhood begins, then we
should not be allowed to induce birth and then deliberately kill a foetus during that process - this
is different from early abortion in which birth is induced and the foetus dies naturally. Partial-
birth abortion is murder, even on the pro-choice understanding of personhood.
This is misleading - in partial-birth abortion, as the term suggests, the foetus is not fully born
when it is killed: the purpose of collapsing the skull is to allow the foetus head to pass more
easily through the birth canal. At no point in the process is a live foetus entirely outside the
womb, so legal personhood is never an issue.
Abortion is wrong per se when there are alternatives such as adoption
Tragically, some babies are unwanted, but this does not mean that we should kill them. There are
plenty of other options, notably adoption. If anything, the case for adoption is more compelling
in the third trimester, because the pregnancy is nearer to its natural end and there is less time,
only about ten weeks, for the mother to have to put up with it.[1] Unwanted pregnancy and
adoption may be psychologically harmful, but in many cases so is abortion, particularly at a late
stage of pregnancy when the mother can see that the dead foetus is recognisably a baby - the
guilt feelings associated with feeling that one is responsible for murdering a child can be
[1] Bupa, Stages of pregnancy, April 2010,
Arguing that adoption is a good option shows a fundamental lack of awareness of what is
involved in carrying an unwanted foetus to term. Pregnancy can be stressful at the best of times;
being forced to carry an unwanted child against your will is enormously traumatic, and can cause
permanent psychological harm, as can the knowledge that your own unwanted child is growing
up elsewhere and may one day return to find you. If a mother chooses to carry a foetus to term
and then give it up for adoption, thats fine, but nobody should force her to do so.
The concept of "foetal rights" is an attack on the autonomy of women
The culture of foetal rights reflects a dangerous litigious trend in American society, and implies a
view of pregnant women as being nothing more than baby-carrying machines whose
independence and autonomy should be restricted and whose motivations should be questioned at
every turn. If this has implications for the abortion debate, then those implications are profoundly
damaging to women in general. In any case, the mother of a wanted baby has entirely different
responsibilities toward the unborn foetus from the mother of an unwanted baby - thats why our
society allows both abortions and antenatal classes.
Allowing partial-birth abortion is utterly inconsistent with the growing, and legally recognised,
respect for foetal rights in the United States. If a man can sue the mother of his child for taking
drugs during pregnancy which discolour their childs teeth, if pregnant women can be banned
from the smoking sections of restaurants, what sense does it make to allow exactly the same
foetuses to have their skulls deliberately crushed?
Opposition to partial birth abortion is part of a strategy intended to ban abortion in general
Partial-birth abortions form a tiny proportion of all abortions, but from a medical and
psychological point of view they ought to be the least controversial. The reason for this focus is
that late-term abortions are the most obviously distasteful, because late-term foetuses look more
like babies than embryos or foetuses at an earlier developmental stage. Late-term abortions
therefore make for the best pro-life campaigning material. By attempting to focus the debate
here, campaigners are aiming to conflate all abortions with late-term abortions, and to increase
opposition to all abortion on that basis.
Although many people who are against partial-birth abortion are against abortion in general,
there is no necessary link, as partial-birth abortion is a particularly horrifying form of abortion.
This is for the reasons already explained: it involves a deliberate, murderous physical assault on
a half-born baby, whom we know for certain will feel pain and suffer as a result. We accept that
there is some legitimate medical debate about whether embryos and earlier foetuses feel pain;
there is no such debate in this case, and this is why partial-birth abortion is uniquely horrific, and
uniquely unjustifiable.
Partial birth abortions are safer than any available alternative
The D&X abortion procedure generates the minimum of risk for the mother. Banning it means
that the only alternatives are premature labour induction for which mortality rates are 2.5 times
higher and is emotionally very difficult due to the length of time it takes[1] (it is also likely to be
unacceptable to the proposition) and hysterotomy (which results in removal of the womb).
Finally as those who are having late partial birth abortions are likely to be suicidal, or at least
will be very determined to get rid of their child they are the most likely to resort to back-street
methods that cause damage to themselves.

[1] The Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Abortion,

There is no medical consensus on this issue. Where Dilation and Extraction is performed
without inducing partial birth then it has the potential to be just as safe for the mother.
This house would ban cosmetic surgery
The distinction between cosmetic surgery and other types of surgery such as reconstructive
surgery is that cosmetic surgery involves techniques intended for the 'enhancement' of
appearance. Cosmetic surgery involves both surgical and medical techniques and it is
specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond
the average level toward some aesthetic ideal. Cosmetic procedures have grown in popularity
dramatically, in 2006, nearly 11 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the United
States alone. The number of cosmetic procedures performed in the United States has increased
over 50 percent since the start of the century. Nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures were
performed in 2007. In Europe, the second largest market for cosmetic procedures, cosmetic
surgery is a $2.2 billion business. Cosmetic surgery is now very common in countries such as the
United Kingdom, France, and Germany. In Asia, cosmetic surgery has become an accepted
practice; currently most widely prevalent and normal in China where it is currently Asia's biggest
cosmetic surgery market
. Proponents argue that the risks inherent in surgery that is not
medically necessary are too great and that women are merely succumbing to the pressures of
men. Opponents, in contrast, argue women have a right to choose both how they look and what
methods they choose to get to how they look. This debate will examine whether cosmetic surgery
should be banned.
Cosmetic Surgery,(accessed 8/6/2011)
Banning cosmetic surgery would not prevent it occurring, better for it to be legal and
performed properly
If banned, cosmetic surgery will flourish on a black market. Of course cosmetic surgery is
already available on the black market but if banned then potentially all the customers who have
legal cosmetic surgery will become customers for black market cosmetic surgery. This will drive
the prices up and it will be much more dangerous as it will be done by unscrupulous doctors and
outside all the safety precautions the legal environment provides. Examples such as that of 46
year old Maria Olivia Aguirre-Castillo died as a result of a black market cosmetic procedure in
which cooking oil was injected into her buttocks by an unlicensed practitioner who promised a
cheap alternative to legitimate procedures. After spending a week in a coma following the
procedure, Ms. Aguirre-Castillo succumbed to multiple organ failure due to fat embolization, as
the oil injected into her buttocks attacked her body functions
. Examples such as this would
become much more of a common occurrence if cosmetic surgery was banned due to the increase
in black market surgeries.
Cosmetic Surgery bargains, (accessed 12/6/2011)
The black market argument applies to everything illegal. Of course that risk exists, but the
number of those undertaking the activity will be smaller, as the opposition suggests by saying
that operations will increase in price. Lack of legal safeguards and medical accountability, and
the probability that only badly qualified doctors will offer illegal operations will deter almost
everyone from risking black market surgery. Fewer operations must be desirable if it is agreed
that the activity concerned should be banned. Since discussing the effects of banning cosmetic
surgery is at the present time a hypothetical task, this argument will cite the prohibition of drugs
as an example. A 2001 Australian study of 18-29 year olds by the NSW Bureau of Crime
Statistics and Research suggests that prohibition deters illicit drug use. 29% of those who had
never used cannabis cited the illegality of the substance as their reason for never using the drug,
while 19% of those who had ceased use of cannabis cited its illegality as their reason
NSW Bureau of Crime statistics and research, Does prohibition deter cannabis use?, (accessed
The development of cosmetic surgery over the years has been intertwined with that of
reconstructive and more general medical surgery.
Cosmetic surgery has greatly aided reconstructive surgery. For example, maxillofacial surgery,
or surgery of the jaw, has developed with insights from both plastic surgeons and oral surgeons.
The roots of oral and maxillofacial surgery lie in the World Wars, when service personnel
sustained devastating facial injuries
. These grave injuries necessitated new innovations in
reconstructive surgical procedures. It was around this time that aesthetic surgery began to take its
place as a somewhat more respected aspect of plastic surgery. This progress also brought with it
a greater understanding of anaesthesia and infection prevention, allowing surgeons to perform a
wider variety of increasingly complex procedures
. To shut down cosmetic surgery would be to
cut off a valuable outlet for research and discovery. The market can sometimes create great
benefits: people work hard in pursuit of profits and often their work can help us all. Plenty of
people make a good living from normal medicine and they are not criticised, the same should be
true for privately provided medicine: there's nothing wrong with turning a profit.
Dennison, Lucy, Maxillofacial surgery, (accessed 12/6/2011)
Kita, Nathalie, The history of Plastic surgery,(accessed 12/6/2011)
It could however be argued that commercialized medicine will harm society, yet produce little in
the way of benefits. Non-profit hospitals undertake costly, but needed, research and maintain
services which are not economically viable but which provide doctors with the training
experiences necessary to medical education. Where profits rule, however, such necessary, but
unprofitable, research and services important to medical education will be neglected.
Furthermore, as for-profits come to dominate the health care sector, society will suffer a severe
shortage of unprofitable, but critical, services, such as emergency rooms. Meanwhile, scarce
resources will be squandered to produce and aggressively market lucrative, but unnecessary,
services, such as cosmetic surgery
Andre, Claire & Velasquez, Manuel, A healthy bottom line: Profits or people? (accessed
Women have the right and freedom to choose how they look
The freedom to change their body if they wish is important to women who have historically been
subjugated by men, their bodies regarded as owned and for the use of men. Cosmetic surgery
the ultimate control over ones body, perhaps is the latest stage in the emancipation of women
and their ability to decide what happens to their bodies. The French performance artist Orlan, for
example, sees plastic surgery as a path towards self-determination a way for women to regain
control of their bodies. Instead of having her body rejuvenated or beautiful, she turns the tables
and uses surgery as a medium for a different project.[1] Orlan designs her body, orchestrates the
operations and makes the final decision about when to stop and when to go on. She is the creator,
not just the creation; the one who decides and not the passive object of another's decisions that
many people view recipients of cosmetic surgery to be.[2] Feminists have often envisioned a
future where technology has been seized for women for their own ends. Take, for example,
Shulamith Firestone's Dialectic of Sex (1970) in which she fantasies a world in which
reproductive technology frees women from the chores and constraints of biological

[1]Orlan, Manifesto of Carnal Art.
[2]Kathy Davis, 'My body is my art': Cosmetic surgery as feminist utopia?

If anything, cosmetic surgery is the latest phenomenon in the long history of the objectification
of women in society. In actuality this technology is not empowering because it is largely used by
women who are driven to meet male standards of beauty, exaggerating their shape and seeking to
remain youthful lest their partner leave them for (often literally) a younger model. A preference
for younger women (which is universally documented) evolved for men to narrow the range of
productive mates to those still young enough to bear children
. As women's reproductive
capacity drops off dramatically, so do men's ratings of 'attractiveness' for her.
Goehring, Jennifer, Modern standards of beauty: Nature or Nurture? An evolutionary
perspective (accessed 11/6/2011)
Given that the reality is that we're judged on our appearance all the time, it's perfectly rational
to want to look good.
Nobody's forcing anyone to have cosmetic surgery the market is driven by demand.
Attractiveness is greatly affects first impressions and later interpersonal relationships. In a classic
study entitled 'What is Beautiful is good', psychologists Kenneth Dion, Ellen Berscheid and
Elaine Hatfield asked college students to rate photographs of strangers on a variety of personal
characteristics. Those who were judged to be attractive were also more likely to be rated
intelligent, kind, happy, flexible, interesting, confident, friendly, modest, and successful than
those judged unattractive [1]. Teachers rate attractive children more highly on a variety of
positive characteristics including IQ and sociability, and attractive babies are cuddled and kissed
more often than unattractive babies[2].
[1]Elayne A. Saltzberg and Joan C. Chrisler, Beauty is the Beast: Psychological effects of the
pursuit of the perfect female body.
[2]Elayne A. Saltzberg and Joan C. Chrisler, Beauty is the Beast: Psychological effects of the
pursuit of the perfect female body.
On the other hand, it could be argued that instead of giving into this reality we should be fighting
against the culture of unrealistic beauty ideals. Allen Ginsburg, a radical writer of the 1960s,
said, "Whoever controls the media- the images- controls the culture"
. The media constantly
conveys unrealistic images of the ideal female body. Every woman has a unique build and make-
up, yet the media always tries to perpetuate what they believe the universal standard of women
should be
. These convince an individual that something is terribly wrong with his physical
appearance and that it needs to be mended. The growth in cosmetic surgery enhances people's
perception that there is something wrong with their body if they don't conform to the ideal
beautiful form. It could also be argued that the lengths that women go to to try and look good are
indeed not rational. Cosmetic surgery with its high cost and risks certainly does not seem like a
rational option
Ginsburg, Allen, Allen Ginsburg quotes, (accessed 15/6/2011)
Image is Everything,(accessed 12/6/2011)
Risks of Plastic surgery,(accessed 16/6/2011)
This House Believes Alternative Medicine
Poses a Threat to Public Health
Alternative (or complementary) medicine, as a concept, covers such a huge range of techniques
and practices. However, broadly speaking, the term usually refers those techniques that fall
outside conventional, pharmacological or surgical practices. In some countries such as the US
and Germany practitioners are frequently physicians; in others they may have no medical
training at all. Generally speaking both critics and supporters tend to define alternative medicine
as any medical approach that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine[i].

From the point of view this debate, the status of alternative medicine raises a number of
problems, as is always the case with defining terms in the negative. It may be relatively easy to
criticize the medical value of crystal healing, psychic surgery or a laying of hands, but
aromatherapy, massage, chiropractic treatments and, notably, homeopathy are slightly harder to
attack. However, there is a vibrant debate in all of these areas. In the same way that there are
certain areas that Prop needs to leave off limits for the debate to work at all the same applies, for
Op, to some holistic treatments that realistically could be prescribed by a mainstream
practitioner such as good diet and regular exercise or removing smoking and drinking whether
these are called pathogens or negative forces is, frankly, incidental. As a result this debate will
focus on those areas that are contentious. Critically, it needs to focus on the extent to which some
of the treatments currently on offer are simply an expensive scam. Another common criticism is
that practitioners who promote their approach as, genuinely, an alternative, rather than a
compliment to contemporary medicine can be taking risks with their patients health, hopes and
even lives.

According to a survey in South Australia about half of the adult population of the developed
world use alternative medicine,[ii] and in the developing world it could be considerably more.
Either way it is clear that for a sizable portion of the world, complementary and alternative
medicines represent a significant part of their medical treatment. Its also worth noting that a
large number of conventional remedies were once considered alternative. Indeed, the
consumption of prepared herbs and plants said to have beneficial or medicinal properties, for
example, predates written history and underpins sizable chunks of modern pharmacology. A
significant auxiliary industry has now grown up around the process of identifying the active
chemicals contained in flora and refining and concentrating their properties for use in clinical

Despite the sheer scale and duration of longitudinal studies conducted by the National Centre for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US (NCCAM) not a single study has provided
firm proof for the effects that many popular alternative therapies are claimed to have. Arguably,
of course, the moment science backs something up, it ceases to be alternative. Perhaps in the
light of this Arnold Relman, former Editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine
commented, There really is no such thing as alternative medicine only medicine that has been
proved to work and medicine that hasnt.

On a word of caution its easy for this debate to degenerate into either anecdotal evidence or a
squabble about the psychosomatic benefits of one therapy or another. Generally both are best
avoided, after all if Op proves the benefits of a placebo its not exactly something that is new to
science which has been using them since its foundation and the fact that Aunt Berthas hip is
much better now that shes using reflexology is not really a point that lends itself to open debate.

[i] Steven Bratman MD. The Alternative Medicine Sourcebook, Lowell House. 1997.
[ii] Healy, Judith, improving health care safety and quality, Ashgate 2011, p.114
Many alternative remedies, such as homeopathy, offer nothing but a false hope and can
discourage patients from consulting a doctor with what may be serious symptoms
There are good reasons why new therapies are tested in scientific trials first, rather than just
released on the public that it might work. The first is to weed out side-effects but the other is that
if you give most people a medicine they will, not unreasonably, expect it to make them better.

An entire industry has grown out of alternative medicines. No doubt many alternative
practitioners are well meaning, but this does not change the fact that people are making money
out of something that, as far as anyone can determine, is basically snake oil.

Although many people take both alternative and established treatments, there are a growing
number of patients who reject conventional medical wisdom (theres an account of one such case
here[i]) in cases that prove fatal the availability of alternative medicines raises serious ethical and
legal concerns, and also undermines the stringent regimes of monitoring and supervision that
qualified medical professionals are subjected to..

[i] David Gorski. Death by Alternative Medicine: Whos to blame?. Science-Based Medicine 2008.
The overwhelming majority of practitioners of alternative therapies recommend that they be used
in conjunction with conventional medicine. However, the rights and opinions of the patient are
foremost and should be respected. In the case of cancer, since that is the study considered by
proposition, there are many sufferers who decide that chemotherapy, a painful and protracted
treatment, which rarely yields promising or conclusive results, may well be worse than the

Of course there is a cost associated with alternative medicine, although it is as nothing compared
with the cost of many medical procedures, notably in the US but also elsewhere. There are plenty
of conventional practitioners willing to prescribe medications that may not be necessary or, at the
very least, select medications on the basis of financial inducements from pharmaceutical

Despite legal rulings[i], such practices still take place; it would be disingenuous not to explore
the extent to which commercial dealings influence the practice of conventional medicine.

Clearly advice should always be given on the basis of the needs of the patient. However, there
are many circumstances in which conventional medicine fails to adhere to this principle.
Venality and petty negligence are not behaviours that are exclusive to the world of alternative

[i] Tom Moberly. Prescribing incentive schemes are illegal says European Court. GP Magazine. 27
February 2010.
Although there are many accounts of the efficacy of alternative cancer treatments, not one has
been demonstrated to work in a clinical trial
The National Centre for Conventional and Alternative Medicines has spent over $2.5bn on
research since 1992. The Dutch government funded research between 1996 and 2003.
Alternative therapies have been tested in mainstream medical journals and elsewhere. Not only
have thousands of research exercises failed to prove the medical benefit alternative treatments
for severe and terminal diseases, serious peer-reviewed studies have routinely disproved them.

Its all well and good to pick at mistakes in individual studies. Indeed, this tactic often forms the
mainstay of pleas for legitimacy made by members of the alternative medical
community. However, the odds against such consistently negative results would be

By contrast, conventional medicine only prescribes medicines and treatments that are proven,
and vigorously proven, to work.
Partly the problem here may well be that clinical research is simply looking for the wrong things.
There is enough anecdotal evidence of success to at least suggest further research it is worth
noting that theres no money in many of these treatments so they actually get relatively little
academic discussion.

A meta-study of the available material on analyses of the effectiveness of complementary
medicine by the Cochrane Library found positive or confirmatory outcomes in 34 percent of
those papers it reviewed on the subject.

It is also worth reiterating that there is a massive financial interest in ignoring, sidelining or
condemning therapies that pose a threat to the medical establishment.

It seems incredibly unlikely that people would come back for more than one dose of a treatment
that was having no effect, and yet they do.
Overwhelmingly alternative therapies are used in conjunction with established remedies -
oddly the latter tends not to get the credit for the miracle cure
Thankfully only 4.4% of the 60million or so Americans who say they use alternative therapies
rely on them exclusively. It is odd that in the cases of anecdotal accounts of the success of
alternative medicines this statistic is rarely mentioned[i].

Equally, the impact of other treatment which may have been used by patients eager to credit
complementary and alternative medicines with curing their conditions, tend not to get a look in,
neither do the relative successes of conventional medicine.

This is probably why in every trial alternative medicine has a success rate of between 0% and
0%. By contrast there needs only be one instance of harm caused to demonstrate that this motion
must stand. Interestingly, although conventional medicine publishes its mistakes in an effort to
correct them, nothing similar exists for alternatives. Moreover, there are many accounts of
fatalities caused by alternatives both directly and indirectly through delaying accurate
diagnosis as seen above (Oh, the same applies to animals too[ii]).

The food supplements industry alone is worth $250 a year worldwide, with little examination of
the medical impact of merrily shoving things into your system that were bought at WalMart or

JA Astin Why patients use alternative medicine: results of a national survey Journal of the American
Medical Association 279 (19) 1548-53. May 1998.
Statistics for alternatives are difficult to generate as patients will often move between
practitioners and frequently self-medicate.
Clearly there are also conditions that any responsible practitioner would refer to a specialist in
that particular field.

However, many people are mistrustful of so-called conventional medicine and the alternative
medicine sector has proven both popular and has often brought about changes in lifestyle as well
as direct health benefits, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed.

Responsible practitioners have welcomed the actions of those governments who have licensed
and regulated the Complementary and Alternative sector.

Although science may struggle to explain the benefits of these therapeutic technics, as they do
not lend themselves to the tools of commercial medicine.
A huge number of fully accepted medical practices started being seen as something a bit off the
wall, its wrong to deny sick people access to a treatment that may be mainstream in 20 years
There is a fine line between what is considered alternative and what is thought of as mainstream.
Techniques do move across that line and when they do so, they are seen as mainstream.
However, this process of reform, refinement and acceptance takes time.

In the meantime it is simply unfair to deny treatment to patients who want it because the medical
establishment is beholden to a conservative academic orthodoxy and drug and treatment
providers with vested interests in ensuring that particular cures and techniques will continue to
be purchased and utilised.
This comes down to the well it cant hurt, can it approach to alternatives. There is simply no
serious medic or any other scientist for that matter who would suggest that its a good idea to
ingest products that are of dubious origin and purport medical benefits without having been
tested. In many cases these have been shown to be at least irrelevant and at worst actively

Of course it is painful to deny treatment to a patient on the basis that the medication has yet to
complete its trial stage but there is a reason for doing that in that it allows doctors to be 100
percent sure of a product before theyre prescribed.
The pharmaceutical and medical industries are worth billions of dollars annually. They have
an interest in ignoring the efficacy of remedies that are, for the most part, free or considerably
Its understandable that the medical establishment has an interest in ignoring treatments that are
freely available. Pharmaceutical companies make billions each year selling drugs that cost
pennies to manufacture.

There is an enormous vested interest in insuring that the world in general- and the West in
particular-remain tied to the idea that the only solution to disease is to swallow a pill provided by
a man in a white coat. There are other solutions that have been used for thousands of years
before anybody worked out how to make a buck out of it. For much of the world these therapies
continue to be the ones people rely on and the rush of pharmaceutical companies to issue patents
on genes of some of these traditional remedies suggests that there must be at least some truth in
Absolutely nobody questions that many remedies can be drawn from nature- penicillin provides
one example- but there is something of a jump that happens between chewing on a piece of bark
and a regulated dose of a chemical.

Lets deal quickly with the cost of medications the second pill may well cost pennies; the first
one, by contrast, costs hundreds of millions of dollars in research. On the basis that there is
probably more than one medicine in the world that procedure will need to be repeated.

As for the idea that there are older or more traditional remedies and that these are still frequently
used in much of the world, that is, indeed true. They are the same periods of history and parts of
the planet were the bulk of humankind died or continues to die agonizing deaths from
relatively commonplace diseases that modern medicine is able to cure with a pill from a man in
a white coat. It is admittedly regrettable that more of the world isnt covered by the protection
science offers but that is scarcely the fault of science.
Alternative medical practitioners tend to spend more time with their patients and get a better
understanding of them as a whole, as a result they are more likely to treat the person than the
Modern medicine tends to treat an individual symptom without putting it in the context of the
whole person and so will often fail to see it as part of a wider pathology.

Alternative practitioners tend to spend more time with their patients and so are better placed to
asses individual symptoms as a part of the person as a whole rather than just dealing with
symptoms one as a time as the crop up.
his is of course an excellent argument for more and better funded clinics, especially in parts of
the world (including much of the West) where access to medicine is difficult.

It is also evidence that when people are genuinely worried about their health they tend to consult
providers of conventional medicine who are, as a result, extremely busy.

It perhaps says more than anything else about many practitioners of alternative medicines that
they have time to sit around bonding with their patients. Unsurprisingly, such a luxury is rare in
an A and E ward or even in the average GPs surgery.