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Matt Bevin's anti-vaccination stunt is not about "personal choice": It's much darker than that

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Thirty years ago this spring, I got the chicken pox. The disease is never fun, but I got a particularly bad case and my body still bears scars, especially on my scalp. I was sick a lot as a kid, including two hospitalizations for asthma, but nothing I endured was worse than the chicken pox, with the ceaseless itching from hundreds of sores covering every inch of my body, even the most tender areas. I spent hours every day crying, wondering with a childish intensity whether I would ever feel comfortable again. The vaccine came out six years after that and I, even as an adolescent, was overjoyed that children would never have to suffer that way again.

All that came rushing back to me reading about Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, a Republican with a growing national profile, bragging about deliberately infecting his children with this disease, rather than sparing them the pain by getting them vaccinated. The story is bizarre, but not all that surprising. It's another reminder that, while the religious right loves to talk about love and Jesus, the true motivating principle of the movement is cruelty and domination, especially when it comes to women and children.

Bevin presented his decision to avoid the vaccine and instead deliberately expose his nine children (!) to the disease as a matter of personal choice. He said, "If you are worried about your child getting chicken pox or whatever else, vaccinate your child," while adding that "some parents, for some reason, they choose otherwise" and the government "should not be forcing this upon people."

Invoking free choice sounds noble, but in reality Bevin has spent his career opposing choice........

© Salon