May 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Parents claiming that childhood vaccines cause autism should not be rewarded by the courts when the scientific community has already rejected any link, government lawyers argued Monday on the first day of a hearing in federal court.
Overall, nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. Lawyers for the families are presenting three different theories of how vaccines caused autism. The theory at issue Monday was whether vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal caused autism.
Lynn Ricciardella, a Justice Department lawyer, said that theory has not moved beyond the realm of speculation. She said that the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have rejected any link between thimerosal and autism.
“There is no scientific debate,” Ricciardella said. “The debate is over.”