Typhoid Theresa Manzella Wants to Protect Your God-Given Right to Spread Preventable Diseases

Deeply informed by an in-depth study of a trove of memes and Russian propaganda on Facebook, Representative Theresa Manzella came to the Legislature determined to protect the rights of parents who can’t read scientific journals to bring their unvaccinated brood to Montana’s daycare providers.

Manzella’s HB 575 and 574 would strip authority from the Department of Public Health and Human Services to require that children in daycare facilities and foster homes be immunized, reasoning that such public health provisions somehow discriminate against the religious beliefs of the congregants of the Church of the Literacy Challenged. Manzella, who has repeatedly noted that she relies on Facebook groups to “inform” her about the scientific merits of vaccination, represents Ravalli County, where almost 12% of the children have received a religious exemption from required vaccines, and her advocacy for reduced vaccination threatens the health of Montana’s citizens.

It would be easy to write off the delusional ramblings of Representative Manzella, whose grasp of basic medicine seems comparable to her understanding of American history and civics, but it’s just not that simple. Manzella, ill-informed as she is, gives credence to the growing number of people who think their home cures for the measles like colloidal silver will protect their children from a disease that can be quite serious. Even if most Montanans know better than to take her pseudo-scientific nonsense seriously, her remarks will almost certainly be used by anti-vaxxers in another state or community to justify an even more absurd bill.

That’s how the game works. Lacking a single credible medical study to support their contentions, the anti-vax mob relies on misplaced appeals to authority, memes generated in St. Petersburg to sow political unrest in the United States, and the gullibility of people who just can’t understand the importance of keeping these diseases at bay and protecting those who truly cannot get vaccinated for health reasons.

In another era, Representative Manzella would be the subject of editorial scorn from newspapers across the state. Instead of the dangerous mindset that every story needs to be treated as if there are two competing truths at question, even when one side has all the science backing it, newspapers would have made sure that readers understood the retrograde thinking of political leaders who were endangering public health. Instead, today, we get the Independent Record offering up a poll question on Facebook about vaccines, as if more uninformed Internet commentary was really the best way to resolve the question.

There’s no question that Theresa Manzella should not be making healthcare policy. There’s no question that vaccinations are a scientifically proven mechanism to improve public safety.

Let’s stop pretending that either is a question for debate.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Maybe she can invite the Playboy bunny Jenny McCarthy to address the State Legislature on the benefits of not vaccinating. Jenny could even pass out copies of the Playboy issue that brought her fame. Would make for a packed session.

  • “as one of the 12% of unvaccinated students in ravalli county I object to this slander and thank my representative for her service”

  • As a daycare student from Ravalli County I am thankful that my representative is fighting for my right to not have dangerous chemicals pumped into my veins. Thank you for your service, Representative!

  • “Build the Wall!” Except I’m thinking about one on the Missoula-Ravalli County border to keep out the measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio and knuckleheads.

  • I certainly hope she shows up personally to pray for the children that fall ill due to her wrecklessness and then can expound on her theory that public school teachers are communists. Please send her back to Texas. The state she escaped from. Her prize will be a “hug yourself” jacket with special straps.

  • Don, you obviously believe that it is science that sells the toxic liability-free potions that vaccines consist of. Maybe you should check to see if your favorite pharmaceutical company has been fined lately for some form of dishonesty. Representative Manzella has obviously done far more home work than you. She deserves a big shout out from appreciative Montana residents.

  • This is not an anti-vax debate. This is about protecting ourselves from mandated medical procedures and removing our own choice in the matter. I thank Rep Theresa Manzella for defending our rights and freedoms before we give them all away. Personally, I prefer freedom.

    • Well, it’s your choice to get polio, Lanae. Freedom! I’d appreciate it if you don’t spread it to me or my children or grandchildren.

      • Pete Talbot, I can definitely understand your concern, nobody wants the Polio you remember. Here’s a few fun facts-

        -Modern day “Iron Lungs” are called Ventilators! They did not go away! They became more advanced!

        -CDC states, 72% of people exposed to polio ASYMPTOMATIC, 24% will develop mild symptoms (fever, sore throat),* FEWER THAN 1% will experience paralysis.*

        *https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/polio.html *

        -Permanent paralysis is very rare and was only a major problem in the 50s due to long-term casting and immobilization of limbs, and due to this, actually birthed the profession we now know as “physical therapy” by Sister Elizabeth Kenny.

        – “Polio” from the 50s, due to better diagnostic skills, was* redefined* to things like “Guillain–Barré syndrome, Aseptic Meningitis, Acute Flaccid Myelitis, Acute Transverse Myelitis, etc”, which all very much still exist.

        • You know why there are very few cases of paralytic polio these days, Lanae? Because of vaccines! In 1952, in its peak year in the U.S, there were 21,000 cases of paralysis. Let’s bring back the 50s, right Lanae?

  • I am completely certain that Manzella is not promoting freedom or it’s a very narrow idea of it since her psychotic rant against the school children that protested school shootings, her “pray the gay away” stance and confusion on socialism and communism shows. There is a difference between informed choice with responsible action and accountability and sustained ignorance that puts others in danger.

  • Now she is running for State Senate! We need to get more of this information out to the voters. Let’s end her run before she can get past the primaries in June. Nancy Balance is her opponent and she has a good record. She is tough, but reasonable. She is honest and she cares about Montana. Will all of you help get the public more information on Typhoid Theresa? Especially in this COVID19 environment? I don’t want to see this woman making policy for my family.

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