Capitol Alert

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. apologizes for vaccine ‘holocaust’ remark

Robert Kennedy, Jr. speaks with audience members at the Crest Theater in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.
Robert Kennedy, Jr. speaks with audience members at the Crest Theater in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. rbenton@sacbee.com

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has apologized for describing as a “holocaust” a rise in autism cases he believes is linked to vaccinations, walking back a remark that framed an incendiary debate over a California bill requiring shots for most school children.

On the same day that California lawmakers held solemn ceremonies marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Kennedy released a statement saying he had chosen his words poorly.

“I employed the term during an impromptu speech as I struggled to find an expression to convey the catastrophic tragedy of autism which has now destroyed the lives over over twenty million children and shattered their families,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I am acutely aware of the profound power attached to that word and I will find other terms to describe the autism crisis in the future.”

While speaking last week at a Sacramento screening of the film Trace Amounts, which ties rising autism rates to the use of a mercury-based preservative in vaccines, Kennedy blamed childhood vaccinations for injuries that include autism and permanent neurological damage.

“This is a holocaust,” Kennedy said, “what this is doing to our country.”

The following day, Senate Bill 277 passed its first committee after a protracted and impassioned hearing. Its next vote comes on Wednesday.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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