|Founded||May 13, 2005|
|Legal status||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization|
|Headquarters||Sherman Oaks, California, United States|
|J.B. Handley, Lisa Handley, Deidre Imus, Samir Patel, Rowena Salas, Donnie Wahlberg, Katie Wright|
Generation Rescue is a nonprofit organization that advocates the scientifically disproven view that autism and related disorders are primarily caused by environmental factors, particularly vaccines. 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.
The organization was established in 2005 by Lisa and J.B. Handley and 150 volunteer "Rescue Angels". Beginning in the spring of 2005 and running through January 2007. More recently it has been led by Jenny McCarthy, an author, television personality and former Playboy model. 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". 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."
Causes of autism
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, a mercury-based vaccine preservative. Generation Rescue claims that biomedical intervention can help children recover. The hypotheses that vaccines, such as MMR, or thiomersal cause autism have been refuted by scientific research, as have claims that diets, drugs or chelation can cure autism. 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, and the organization has been described as anti-vaccine.
Promotion of products sold by board members
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. However, Generation Rescue, Candace McDonald and Jenny McCarthy were named in the suit as Respondents in Discovery. 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. The property was subsequently developed as Fiore Salon Suites.
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. These conferences have also been criticized because Andrew Wakefield has spoken at them. They have also been criticized because many of the speakers presenting "so-called treatments" have a financial interest in them.
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." However, Wakefield's work has been characterized as "an elaborate fraud", 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.
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
Much of Generation Rescue's case is based on publications that do not go through a proper peer review process. 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."
- "Generation Rescue, Inc." Corporation Division. Oregon Secretary of State. Accessed on February 25, 2016.
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Generation Rescue Inc. Guidestar. December 31, 2013.
- Vaccines and autism:
- Doja, A; Roberts, W (2006). "Immunizations and autism: A review of the literature". Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences. 33 (4): 341–6. doi:10.1017/s031716710000528x. PMID 17168158.
- Gerber, JS; Offit, Paul A. (2009). "Vaccines and autism: A tale of shifting hypotheses". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 48 (4): 456–61. doi:10.1086/596476. PMC 2908388. PMID 19128068.
- Gross, L (2009). "A broken trust: Lessons from the vaccine–autism wars". PLOS Biology. 7 (5): e1000114. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000114. PMC 2682483. PMID 19478850.
- Offit, Paul A. (2007). "Thimerosal and vaccines—a cautionary tale". The New England Journal of Medicine. 357 (13): 1278–9. doi:10.1056/NEJMp078187. PMID 17898096.
- Paul, R (2009). "Parents ask: Am I risking autism if I vaccinate my children?". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 39 (6): 962–3. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0739-y. PMID 19363650.
- Salzberg, Steven (2010-12-31). "Why do we need to 'recontrol' Whooping Cough?". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- Herper, Matthew; Langreth, Robert (2007-09-27). "Fear factor". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- Merlan, Anna (March 20, 2019). "Jenny McCarthy's Autism Charity Has Helped Its Board Members Make Money Off Dangerous, Discredited Ideas". Jezebel. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- Yasmin, Seema (September 2016). "Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy's autism summit peddles dangerous treatments, features discredited doctors". Dallas News. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- Coombes, R (2009). "Vaccine disputes" (PDF). BMJ. 338: b2435. doi:10.1136/bmj.b2435. PMID 19546136. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16.
- Mnookin, Seth (2012). The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 258. ISBN 9781439158654.
- Rochman, Bonnie (2012-05-23). "Why Jenny McCarthy doesn't matter". Family Matters. Time. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- 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.
- Willingham, Emily (2014-02-20). "On autism, environmental toxicants, and bias". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- Willingham, Emily (2012-11-05). "We can now add forced sweating to the faux autism treatment list". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- Claims of autism cures:
- Christison, GW; Ivany, K (2006). "Elimination diets in autism spectrum disorders: Any wheat amidst the chaff?". Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 27 (2 Suppl 2): S162–71. doi:10.1097/00004703-200604002-00015. PMID 16685183.
- Broadstock, M; Doughty, C; Eggleston, M (2007). "Systematic review of the effectiveness of pharmacological treatments for adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder". Autism. 11 (4): 335–48. doi:10.1177/1362361307078132. PMID 17656398.
- Davis, TN; O’Reilly, M; Kang, S; Lang, R; et al. (2013). "Chelation treatment for autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review". Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 7 (1): 49–55. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2012.06.005.
- Miller, Nick (2010-02-04). "Debunking the link between autism and vaccination". The Age. Melbourne.
- Begley, Sharon (2009-02-21). "Anatomy of a scare". Newsweek.
- Steinhauer, Jennifer (2009-10-15). "Swine flu shots revive a debate about vaccines". The New York Times.
- Schory, Brenda (January 16, 2019). "Setback for contractor suing over unfinished clinic with ties to Jenny McCarthy". Kane County Chronicle. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- "Ground breaking takes place in St. Charles for integrative health clinic". Kane County Chronicle. July 4, 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- "Jenny McCarthy's Charity Tied to Lawsuits Over Multi-Million Project". Radar Online. December 7, 2017. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- "Generation Rescue project with ties to Jenny McCarthy subject of lawsuit". Kane County Chronicle. November 13, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "Unfinished clinic with ties to Jenny McCarthy's autism charity transferred to contractor". Kane County Chronicle. May 8, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- "Fiore Salon Suites". St. Charles Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- On conferences:
- Salzberg, Steven (2012-05-27). "Nobel laureate joins anti-vaccination crowd at Autism One". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- "AutismOne throws their support behind the Geiers in Autism Science Digest". leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk. 2011-06-16.
- Gorski, David (2012-05-28). "Bleaching away what ails you". ScienceBasedMedicine.org.
- "MMS, or how to cure autism with bleach. Brought to you by AutismOne". LeftBrainRightBrain.co.uk. 2012-05-29.
- Perry, David M. (2013-07-17). "Jenny McCarthy and fear-based parenting". CNN. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
- Salzberg 2012.
- Dominus, Susan (2011-04-20). "Crash and burn of an autism guru". The New York Times.
- McNamee, David (2014-03-26). "Evidence supports it, so why are parents still reluctant to vaccinate their children?". Medical News Today. MediLexicon. Retrieved 2014-10-03.
- On Wakefield's fraudulent study:
- Godlee, F; Smith, J; Marcovitch, H (2011). "Wakefield's article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent". BMJ. 342: c7452. doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452. PMID 21209060.
- Deer, B (2011). "How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed". BMJ. 342: c5347. doi:10.1136/bmj.c5347. PMID 21209059.
- Hensley, Scott (2011-01-06). "Study linking childhood vaccine and autism was fraudulent". NPR. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
- "Retracted autism study an 'elaborate fraud,' British journal finds". Atlanta: CNN. 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- Lin, RG, II (2008-05-02). "Rise in measles prompts concern". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
- Williams, Mary Elizabeth (2011-01-06). "Jenny McCarthy's autism fight grows more misguided". Salon. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
- Barrett, Alan D.T.; Stanberry, Lawrence R. (2009). Vaccines for Biodefense and Emerging and Neglected Diseases. p. 264. ISBN 978-0080919027.
- Willingham, Emily (2012-10-22). "Jenny McCarthy is a newspaper columnist". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-03.