The MN Autism Council was formed last fall by Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, to discuss autism and advise the Legislature on public policy.
Abeler said he wants the group to represent diverse viewpoints and said it will be focused on issues like housing, employment and education, not vaccines.
But some advocates take issue with having people who have vaccine concerns on the council.
Anti-vaccination groups have focused on Minnesota’s Somali-American community in the past as they tried to perpetuate the hoax that vaccines cause autism, contributing to a drop in vaccinations and the largest measles outbreak in the state’s recent history in 2017.
“Even if it’s not something that’s discussed or that a policy is going to come out of, giving them this large contingency on this council is dangerous. It’s giving credence to a theory that’s false,” said council member Noah McCourt, an autism self-advocate who also serves on the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Two of the more than 30 members on the council are known vaccine skeptics. One of them is Wayne Rohde, who is one of three initial members Abeler picked to help shape the group. Those three selected the rest of the members from a pool of applicants.