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Group: New ABC show 'dangerous'

January 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The nation's largest group representing pediatricians says the first episode of ABC's upcoming series "Eli Stone" perpetuates a dangerous myth. But the show's creators emphasize this is television, and therefore fiction."Eli Stone" is the new legal dramedy set to hit the airwaves Thursday night right here on ABC7. But even before the show debuts there are calls to pull the plug on the premiere episode.

The episode features the show's title character in a courtroom battle over a claim that a mercury-based preservative in a vaccine made a child autistic.

(Spoiler alert: skip past this paragraph if you don't want to know how the show ends.)

When it's revealed an executive at the fictional vaccine maker didn't let his own child get the shot, the jury sides with the autistic child's family, and awards them $52 million.

(End spoiler).

The American Academy of Pediatrics is criticizing the show as encouraging audiences to believe that vaccines do cause autism. In a letter to ABC, the academy president says, "ABC will bear responsibility for the needless suffering and potential deaths of children from parents' decisions not to immunize based on the content of the episode."

Critics of childhood immunization have argued that a mercury-based preservative formerly used in vaccines can cause autism -- but major health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, say numerous scientific studies rule out any link between autism and vaccines.

The past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.

ABC Entertainment issued the following statement:

"'Eli Stone' is a fictional television show. The character, products and events depicted in the episode are all fictional. The storyline plays on topical issues for dramatic effect, but its purpose is to entertain."

The co-creators of 'Eli Stone' say they are proponents of people vaccinating their children, and they have no agenda. They go on to say, "We believe once people watch it, we have faith that no one will draw the conclusion that they should not vaccinate their child."

 

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