Generation Rescue

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Generation Rescue Inc
FoundedMay 13, 2005; 17 years ago (2005-05-13)[1]
FoundersLisa Handley,
J.B. Handley
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
HeadquartersSherman Oaks, California, United States[2]
Jenny McCarthy[2]
J.B. Handley, Lisa Handley, Deidre Imus, Samir Patel, Rowena Salas, Donnie Wahlberg, Katie Wright
Candace McDonald[2]
Revenue (2013)
Expenses (2013)$1,002,311[2]
Employees (2013)
Volunteers (2013)

Generation Rescue is a nonprofit organization that advocates the scientifically disproven[3] view that autism and related disorders are primarily caused by environmental factors, particularly vaccines.[4][5][6][7] The organization was established in 2005 by Lisa and J.B. Handley. Today, Generation Rescue is known as a platform for Jenny McCarthy's autism related anti-vaccine advocacy.[6][8]

Media campaign[edit]

The organization was established in 2005 by Lisa and J.B. Handley and 150 volunteer "Rescue Angels". More recently it has been led by Jenny McCarthy, an author, television personality and former Playboy model.[8] Since McCarthy has become president, the organization has been rebranded variously as "Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's Autism Organization", "Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue" and "Jenny McCarthy's Autism Organization".[9] Bonnie Rochman wrote in Time, "...McCarthy’s celebrity status has meant that her affiliation with Generation Rescue, an organization that links autism with immunization, has spooked thousands of parents, encouraging them to reject vaccines for their children — the same vaccines that are responsible for saving lives around the world."[10]

Causes of autism[edit]

Generation Rescue has proposed a number of possible causes for developmental-related issues, such as vaccines, the increase in the number of vaccines administered, and thiomersal,[11] a mercury-based vaccine preservative.[12] Generation Rescue claims that biomedical intervention can help children recover.[13] The hypotheses that vaccines, such as MMR, or thiomersal cause autism have been refuted by scientific research,[3] as have claims that diets, drugs or chelation can cure autism.[14] Because of Generation Rescue's public profile through national advertising and because its point of view is not shared by the mainstream medical community, its message has been controversial,[15] and the organization has been described as anti-vaccine.[4][16][17]

Promotion of products sold by board members[edit]

Several products and treatments recommended by Generation rescue to their members are sold by members of their Board of Director or their medical advisory board. A $20,000 hyperbaric chamber sold by a firm whose President is then-board member Samir Patel was promoted by the group. Generation rescue also encourages its members to seek hyperbaric treatments from Dan Rossignol, who is a member of their Science Advisory Board. Another member of that board, Anjum Usman Singh, also offers such treatments and received a reprimand by the Medical Board of the California Department of Consumer Affairs for failing to disclose she held a financial interest in the company selling the chambers she used with her patients.[6]

It recommends lollipops enriched with vitamins sold by a company co-founded by Stan Kurtz and owned by Candace McDonald, who have been respectively a President of Generation Rescue and its Executive Director for ten years. For a time, the lollipops were sold directly through the group's website. A $2,000 foot bath that was promoted by Generation Rescue is sold by a sponsor of the group who contributes a minimum of $25,000 to its operating budget.[6]

Each of these featured products are not recognized by the medical community as effective against autism. Until March, 2019, the organization also offered grants to some families, with which they would buy products offered by companies sponsoring Generation Rescue.[6][7]

Failed clinic[edit]

On June 19, 2017, Generation Rescue held a fundraising event in St. Charles, Illinois with Jenny McCarthy and husband Donnie Wahlberg, with part of the proceeds to be put aside for the construction of an integrative health clinic. Construction of the clinic begun in July, under a company managed by Candace McDonald, who was then Executive Director of Generation Rescue. Jenny McCarthy herself was on hand for the ground-breaking ceremony. The clinic was to open in January, 2018.[6][18][19]

Construction was stopped in the Fall of 2017 and the construction contractor filed a lawsuit for non-payment of invoices amounting to $500,000. Generation Rescue now denies it has any links to the construction of the clinic.[6][20] However, Generation Rescue, Candace McDonald and Jenny McCarthy were named in the suit as Respondents in Discovery.[21] The lawsuit was settled; while the terms of the settlement are confidential, title to the site of the proposed clinic was relinquished to the contractor, who had intended to redraw the building’s floor plans and finish individual suites.[22] The property was subsequently developed as Fiore Salon Suites.[23]


Generation Rescue previously co-sponsored an annual conference in Chicago along with another controversial charity, Autism One. The choice of speakers at these conferences led critics to accuse both organizations of promoting unproven therapies, such as the Miracle Mineral Solution, as a purported cure for autism.[24] These conferences have also been criticized because Andrew Wakefield has spoken at them.[25] They have also been criticized because many of the speakers presenting "so-called treatments" have a financial interest in them.[26]

J.B. Handley said of Andrew Wakefield, originator of the claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism: "To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one. He’s a symbol of how all of us feel."[27][28] However, Wakefield's work has been characterized as "an elaborate fraud",[29] and parental fears over vaccines sparked by the controversy, and by continued advocacy of the disproven theory by groups such as Generation Rescue despite, have led, in turn, to decreased immunization rates and an increased incidence of whooping cough and measles, a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease.[30]

Generation Rescue issued a statement that the "media circus" following the revelation of Wakefield's fraud and manipulation of data was "much ado about nothing". Salon responded to Generation Rescue's statement with:

But any organization using a celebrity to mislead parents with claims of "new" data that rely on decade-old vaccine formulas and schedules is more than disingenuous, it's flat-out dangerous.

— Mary Elizabeth Williams[31]

Much of Generation Rescue's case is based on publications that do not go through a proper peer review process.[13][32] Writing for Forbes, Emily Willingham characterized Generation Rescue as "an organization devoted to the debunked notion that vaccines cause autism and that autistic people can be 'recovered' from their autism by way of various unproven and sometimes dangerous interventions, including chelation."[13][33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Generation Rescue, Inc." Corporation Division. Oregon Secretary of State. Accessed on February 25, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Generation Rescue Inc. Guidestar. December 31, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Vaccines and autism:
  4. ^ a b Salzberg, Steven (31 December 2010). "Why do we need to 'recontrol' Whooping Cough?". Forbes. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  5. ^ Herper, Matthew; Langreth, Robert (27 September 2007). "Fear factor". Forbes. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Merlan, Anna (20 March 2019). "Jenny McCarthy's Autism Charity Has Helped Its Board Members Make Money Off Dangerous, Discredited Ideas". Jezebel. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b Yasmin, Seema (September 2016). "Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy's autism summit peddles dangerous treatments, features discredited doctors". Dallas News. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b Coombes, R (2009). "Vaccine disputes" (PDF). BMJ. 338: b2435. doi:10.1136/bmj.b2435. PMID 19546136. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011.
  9. ^ Mnookin, Seth (2012). The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 258. ISBN 9781439158654.
  10. ^ Rochman, Bonnie (23 May 2012). "Why Jenny McCarthy doesn't matter". Family Matters. Time. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  11. ^ Offit, Paul A. (2010). Autism's false prophets : bad science, risky medicine, and the search for a cure (Paperback ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. p. 116. ISBN 9780231517966. OCLC 694142893.
  12. ^ Willingham, Emily (20 February 2014). "On autism, environmental toxicants, and bias". Forbes. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Willingham, Emily (5 November 2012). "We can now add forced sweating to the faux autism treatment list". Forbes. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  14. ^ Claims of autism cures:
  15. ^ Miller, Nick (4 February 2010). "Debunking the link between autism and vaccination". The Age. Melbourne.
  16. ^ Begley, Sharon (21 February 2009). "Anatomy of a scare". Newsweek.
  17. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (15 October 2009). "Swine flu shots revive a debate about vaccines". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Schory, Brenda (16 January 2019). "Setback for contractor suing over unfinished clinic with ties to Jenny McCarthy". Kane County Chronicle. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Ground breaking takes place in St. Charles for integrative health clinic". Kane County Chronicle. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  20. ^ "Jenny McCarthy's Charity Tied to Lawsuits Over Multi-Million Project". Radar Online. 7 December 2017. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Generation Rescue project with ties to Jenny McCarthy subject of lawsuit". Kane County Chronicle. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  22. ^ "Unfinished clinic with ties to Jenny McCarthy's autism charity transferred to contractor". Kane County Chronicle. 8 May 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Fiore Salon Suites". St. Charles Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  24. ^ On conferences:
  25. ^ Perry, David M. (17 July 2013). "Jenny McCarthy and fear-based parenting". CNN. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  26. ^ Salzberg 2012.
  27. ^ Dominus, Susan (20 April 2011). "Crash and burn of an autism guru". The New York Times.
  28. ^ McNamee, David (26 March 2014). "Evidence supports it, so why are parents still reluctant to vaccinate their children?". Medical News Today. MediLexicon. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  29. ^ On Wakefield's fraudulent study:
  30. ^ Lin, RG, II (2 May 2008). "Rise in measles prompts concern". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  31. ^ Williams, Mary Elizabeth (6 January 2011). "Jenny McCarthy's autism fight grows more misguided". Salon. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  32. ^ Barrett, Alan D.T.; Stanberry, Lawrence R. (2009). Vaccines for Biodefense and Emerging and Neglected Diseases. p. 264. ISBN 978-0080919027.
  33. ^ Willingham, Emily (22 October 2012). "Jenny McCarthy is a newspaper columnist". Forbes. Retrieved 3 October 2014.

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