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The Role of Special Education Interest Groups in National Policy By Tiina Itkonen ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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The Role of Special Education Interest Groups in National Policy

Chapter 1

Introduction

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all largely dismissed the notion that thimerosal causes or contributes to autism. Five major studies have found no link. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the number of parents who blame thimerosal for their children’s autism has only increased. And in recent months, these parents have used their numbers, their passion, and their organizational skills to become a potent national force. The issue has become one of the most fractious and divisive in pediatric medicine…Parents have filed more than 4,800 lawsuits…pushed for state and federal legislation banning thimerosal and taken out full page advertisements in major newspapers. New York Times,June 25, 2005.

Political activism resulting from an emotionally vested personal experience is qualitatively different from political participation stimulated by other causes (Jennings, 1999).1