Generation Rescue

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Generation Rescue Inc
FoundedMay 13, 2005; 13 years ago (2005-05-13)[1]
FoundersLisa Handley,
J.B. Handley[2]
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
HeadquartersSherman Oaks, California, United States[3]
Jenny McCarthy[3][2]
J.B. Handley, Lisa Handley, Deidre Imus, Samir Patel, Rowena Salas, Donnie Wahlberg, Katie Wright[2]
Candace McDonald[3][4]
Revenue (2013)
Expenses (2013)$1,002,311[3]
Employees (2013)
Volunteers (2013)

Generation Rescue is a nonprofit organization that advocates the scientifically disproven[5] view that autism and related disorders are primarily caused by environmental factors,[6] particularly vaccines.[7][8] 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 and anti-vaccine advocacy.[9]

Media campaign[edit]

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.[9] 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".[10] 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."[11]

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,[12] and thiomersal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative.[13][14] Generation Rescue claims that biomedical intervention can help children recover.[15][16] The hypotheses that vaccines, such as MMR, or thiomersal cause autism have been refuted by scientific research,[5] as have claims that diets, drugs or chelation can cure autism.[17] 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,[18] and the organization has been described as anti-vaccine.[7][19][20]


Generation Rescue previously co-sponsored an annual conference in Chicago along with another controversial charity, Autism One.[21] 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.[22] These conferences have also been criticized because Andrew Wakefield has spoken at them.[23] They have also been criticized because many of the speakers presenting "so-called treatments" have a financial interest in them.[24]

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."[25][26] However, Wakefield's work has been characterized as "an elaborate fraud",[27] 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.[28]

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".[29] 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[30]

Much of Generation Rescue's case is based on publications that do not go through a proper peer review process.[16][31] 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."[16][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Generation Rescue, Inc." Corporation Division. Oregon Secretary of State. Accessed on February 25, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Board of Directors". Generation Rescue. Accessed on February 25, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Generation Rescue Inc. Guidestar. December 31, 2013.
  4. ^ "Executive Director". Generation Rescue. Accessed on February 25, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Vaccines and autism:
  6. ^ "Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's autism organization – Generation Rescue". Generation Rescue. Archived from the original on 2009-06-05.
  7. ^ a b Salzberg, Steven (2010-12-31). "Why do we need to 'recontrol' Whooping Cough?". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  8. ^ Herper, Matthew; Langreth, Robert (2007-09-27). "Fear factor". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  9. ^ a b 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.
  10. ^ Mnookin, Seth (2012). The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 258. ISBN 9781439158654.
  11. ^ Rochman, Bonnie (2012-05-23). "Why Jenny McCarthy doesn't matter". Family Matters. Time. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  12. ^ "About vaccines". Generation Rescue. Archived from the original on 2007-05-04.
  13. ^ "Is it the mercury?". Generation Rescue. Archived from the original on 2009-11-26.
  14. ^ Willingham, Emily (2014-02-20). "On autism, environmental toxicants, and bias". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  15. ^ "Treatment: What's biomedical treatment?". Generation Rescue. Archived from the original on 2009-11-26.
  16. ^ a b c Willingham, Emily (2012-11-05). "We can now add forced sweating to the faux autism treatment list". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-04.
  17. ^ Claims of autism cures:
  18. ^ Miller, Nick (2010-02-04). "Debunking the link between autism and vaccination". The Age. Melbourne.
  19. ^ Begley, Sharon (2009-02-21). "Anatomy of a scare". Newsweek.
  20. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (2009-10-15). "Swine flu shots revive a debate about vaccines". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "AutismOne / Generation Rescue Conference 2012". Autism International Assoc. May 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-05-11.
  22. ^ On conferences:
  23. ^ Perry, David M. (2013-07-17). "Jenny McCarthy and fear-based parenting". CNN. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  24. ^ Salzberg 2012.
  25. ^ Dominus, Susan (2011-04-20). "Crash and burn of an autism guru". The New York Times.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ On Wakefield's fraudulent study:
  28. ^ Lin, RG, II (2008-05-02). "Rise in measles prompts concern". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  29. ^ "Jenny McCarthy's Generation Rescue". Generation Rescue. Archived from the original on 2011-01-12.
  30. ^ Williams, Mary Elizabeth (2011-01-06). "Jenny McCarthy's autism fight grows more misguided". Salon. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  31. ^ Barrett, Alan D.T.; Stanberry, Lawrence R. (2009). Vaccines for Biodefense and Emerging and Neglected Diseases. p. 264. ISBN 0080919022.
  32. ^ Willingham, Emily (2012-10-22). "Jenny McCarthy is a newspaper columnist". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-10-03.

External links[edit]