"As Chairman, I'd like to call to order this 1,357th meeting of the local 'Responsible Parenting' committee." -- Anon Guest
"Daisy... It's the coffee and cake meet."
"I want it to feel more official," objected Daisy. "It's about vaccination."
Five women in the room all rolled their eyes. "I thought we weren't going to bring up controversial topics at these," objected Claire.
"What's controversial about protecting your kids?" asked Julie.
"The reason lies in the how of it," said the local nerd, Belle. "One side says they're protecting their kids by getting them vaccinated, the other side says they're protecting their kids from getting vaccinated."
"Exactly," said Daisy. "I've always held that vaccines do more good than harm. If you actually look at what these diseases do - scarring, disability, deformation and death, the threat of autism is just... a blip on the radar."
"Excuse me, some folks take the threat of autism very seriously."
"What threat?" asked Belle. "That your kid's going to be a little harder to relate to? That you're going to have to do a little extra as a parent? That you'll have to go out of your way for your kid? That they might embarrass you in public?"
"There's no need to make this personal," iced Storm.
"You did it first," said Belle. "Hi. Actual autistic person in the room?"
"I keep forgetting. You don't look autistic."
Belle looked down at her steampunk band T-shirt, TARDIS purse, and fandom keychain. "Really? You're going there?"
"You see this?" said Claire "This is why we don't discuss controversial topics."
"Maybe it wouldn't be controversial if we stuck to the facts," argued Julie. "Autism wasn't invented in nineteen eleven, they just had different names for it. It's existed for centuries and the narrative's always the same."
"It stole my child," said Belle. "Hey, how do you do so much about it? I thought Nypicals didn't care..."
"You remember Cam? Just got the official diagnosis last week. You said he showed all the signs, and... I went on a wiki walk."
"If you had skipped your vaccines," Storm began.
"Are you dense? Autism's been around for literally a hundred years. More than that, because of the different names," said Julie. "If I hadn't vaccinated Cam, he could have died from that outbreak of whooping cough."
Daisy sighed. "I just wanted to know if it was ethical to pressure someone into vaccinating their kids in order to help protect your own..."
Storm had devolved into yelling about how they tested vaccines on 'abortion victims' at Planned Parenthood. Julie and Belle were chanting, "Prove it," at her. If someone didn't act soon, it would devolve further into fisticuffs.
Claire, the current host, sent Storm into the back yard to meditate while Julie and Belle had a time-out on the porch swing. Only once the argument ceased did she round on Daisy. "Every other month. Every. Other. Month. It's the same damned thing! We gotta put a cork on this, Daisy."
Daisy took a deep breath. "Blossom's immunocompromised," she said. "I have to keep her safe and quarantined homeschooling isn't going to help in the long term."
Claire took a deep breath so that she didn't swear. "Okay. I'm going to hand around the coffee, then you're going to tell that to Storm. Give her all the reason you have for asking, and tell her how many people she knows are autistic. I'm going to beg the other two to not get so agitated. Storm has her reasons to fear, but they're not... well founded, but they're still reasons to fear. We have to support her overcoming these fears, not tear her down for having them."
Daisy sighed. "Yeah. Okay."
This was going to be a rough one, for sure. At least, when it was over, they would have cake.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Pikaso]
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