Bill would ban ‘mercury vaccine’

The first bill in the legislative hopper for the 2007 session is one near and dear to Lawrence’s Linda Weinmaster and a number of parents across the state.

Senate Bill 1 would ban the use of mercury-based thimerosal in childhood vaccines.

“I’m somewhat optimistic that it will pass this session,” Weinmaster said. “We’re going to give it our best try.”

Weinmaster and many others claim that thimerosal, which is used as a preservative in some vaccines, has caused the recent increase in the number of autistic children. Weinmaster’s 15-year-old son, Adam, has several impairments that she attributes to vaccinations.

Federal officials maintain there is no association between the disorders and thimerosal. Critics, however, say the studies are flawed and note that mercury is a known toxin.

In recent years, thimerosal is being used less and less in vaccines, according to health officials. And at least six states have banned or are phasing out the use of thimerosal.

“If mercury is not a necessary element, I don’t think we should have it in vaccinations,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, who has authored the bill.

During the 2006 legislative session, the bill didn’t survive the crush of last-minute legislation.

Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, chairman of the committee that considered the measure, said he would be glad to take it up again.

“We will give it very careful and thorough consideration,” Barnett said.