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Eliza Jane’s Story on ABC “Primetime”

Christine Maggiore

A few days after the Los Angeles Times ran their article on my daughter’s death, a producer from ABC News contacted me with an offer to air our side of the story. At the time, I had no idea what our side of the story might be. All I knew was that my daughter had lived three years and four months in health, and after contracting an unspectacular cold, died of what the Los Angeles County coroner decided – four months later – was an uncommon form of a common AIDS-related pneumonia. Uncommon because in her case the alleged pneumonia caused no symptoms, left no signs of damage, and happened despite a fully functioning immune system.

It would be weeks before an independent pathology and toxicology review of Eliza Jane’s autopsy report was complete. Until then, what could I possibly say? That the cause of death made little sense to the three doctors who examined my daughter in the weeks and days before she died? That it didn’t add up to the family and many friends who saw Eliza Jane every day? Without further understanding, we were not at all ready to speak.

Once the pathology and toxicology analysis was ready, we still were not ready. We felt a need to test its strength and veracity, so beginning on October 25 (and with apologies to Dr Mohammed Al-Bayati who had worked night and day to prepare it) we sent his analysis to other pathologists, to colleagues and to detractors, instructing them to shoot holes through it. Several weeks later, even though the review seemed rather bullet proof, we still wanted another round of quality control.

On November 17, almost a month after its completion and the multiple reviews – and with the enthusiastic blessing of Dr Al-Bayati – we gave the analysis to David Crowe of the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society with instructions to post it on the internet along with an invitation for professional comment. In this way we would see how well the analysis stood up to scrutiny from the many AIDS industrialists following Eliza Jane’s story, the ones who want more than anything for our daughter’s death to be attributed to AIDS.

While the JusticeForEJ.com web site has generated much discussion and controversy, so far the best shots fired by our worst enemies and harshest critics have not produced holes. Their explanations for concurrence with the coroner have to date relied on fantastic combinations of unfounded speculation, biomedical gymnastics and simple ignorance of the facts.

When ABC called again two weeks ago, we still didn’t feel ready, but with a decent offer from a producer my husband and I genuinely respect, we decided to share our side of the story – knowing it will be ‘balanced’ by opposing views, but with the hope that some truth will shine through.

Take care everyone,

Christine

Read the ABC Primetime Transcript…

Does a Bioethicist Have an Ethical Duty to Respond?Christine Maggiore
 

Bioethics is the study of the moral and ethical choices faced in medical research and in the treatment of patients. Dr. Nancy Dubler is the Director of the Division of Bioethics at the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York. As part of the ABC Prime Time segment on Christine Maggiore that aired December 8, 2005, Dubler made the following statements regarding Maggiore’s decision to not subject her children to HIV testing:

“I would say that the next time a child is born to an HIV-positive woman and that woman refuses to have the child tested and treated if positive, that the state has a moral obligation to proceed immediately…There are only three choices in this kind of situation: Take the child, take the child, take the child.”

Read about the lack of citations to back these comments up…

HIV Skeptic Takes Her Case to TV AudienceDaniel Costello & Charles Ornstein Los Angeles Times
 The LA Times ran a story which largely echoed the ABC Primetime TV show. They continued attempts to discredit Al-Bayati, by noting that he does not have an MD (but admitting that he does have a doctorate (PhD) in comparative pathology from UC Davis. They used the pejorative term “denialist” to describe the fact that he has questioned the connection between HIV and AIDS. If science is about questioning current beliefs to develop new and better theories, why is a bad thing to question an established dogma?

The article clearly favors the LA County Coroner James Ribe, quoting him saying “The findings are clear-cut, I’m afraid, and the findings are unequivocal…The body shows what it shows. The organs show what they show. That hasn’t changed before, since or ever.” They did not appear to have challenged him to provide additional evidence. They asked an establishment AIDS doctor, Dr. Harry Vinters, chief of neuropathology at UCLA Medical Center, for his opinion and, not surprisingly, he supported the coroner saying that the diagnosis “is really quite straightforward. It’s not a subtle or tricky diagnosis.” They did not provide any evidence for readers beyond this statement of opinion.

Read the full story here…

Letter to ABCNews.comElizabeth Ely, New York
 I saw the ABC Primetime feature last night on Christine Maggiore and the unfortunate death of her daughter, Eliza Jane, and I thank you for your mostly balanced coverage. However, I thought I would correct one point that you seem to have made throughout this video. As a fellow journalist, I hope you will take this factual error seriously – and correct the record on the Primetime show.

Christine Maggiore is not, and does not present herself as, “HIV-positive.”  She tested positive for HIV in 1992 but has received mixed test results since then.  According to her published testimonial, available on her group’s Web site and at the front of her book, some subsequent HIV tests revealed negative and inconclusive results.  This is the very reversal that led her, a mainstream AIDS activist at the time, to question the HIV-positive diagnosis itself and the accuracy of the test.

To describe Christine Maggiore as “HIV-positive,” without qualification and background, is therefore not correct.

If, however, Christine is “HIV-positive,” her healthy survival for 13 years while taking none of the recommended drugs for this condition is certainly worthy of investigation.

Christine found that her questions about her mysterious sero-conversion were not welcome at the organization for which she was a spokesperson, so she looked elsewhere for research.  What she came up with led to the research in her book.  She did not, as you imply, go from “HIV-positive” to “radical” with barely a step in between.  To leave this out is to distort her work and to leave the public dangerously in the dark as to a public health matter, namely, the questionable accuracy of the HIV test.

I was, however, unaware that the pathologist hired by Christine and her husband to review EJ’s cause of death was on the board of her organization.  Please confirm that this is correct and verified by ABC.  Please also reveal the affiliations of ABC’s independent pathologist, as this is just as relevant to the credibility of those results.  Is this pathologist saying specifically that EJ showed signs of pneumonia?

I would say that the consequences to the Maggiore-Scovill family are severe if this story about them is allowed to stand without rebuttal.  Not only have Christine and her husband, Robin Scovill, been exposed to a police investigation; they have also been found guilty without trial on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.  Christine has tried unsuccessfully (as far as I know so far) to correct the record at the Times, or even to publish a letter to the editor.

Response from Christine Maggiore: Thanks for writing in to ABC. I appreciate your support and your interest  in following this story.

As I stated on a radio interview on KPFK recently, yes, Al-Bayati is on the Alive & Well advisory board. To me that means I can count on him to give an honest and factual accounting from an expert perspective. As a parent, I want to know why my child died, so I turned to someone I could trust to go strictly by the facts. I was not and am not seeking exoneration or to appear right. I am seeking the truth. As any attorney in criminal law will tell you, there are great numbers of pathologists and other experts for hire who, if you go through enough of them, will tell you what you need or want to hear. We wanted one who would tell us the truth.

We had no idea what happened to our daughter when we sent the autopsy report to Al-Bayati for review and had no idea what Al-Bayati’s conclusion would be. It didn’t even occur to me that I should not allow an expert I know and trust to analyze the case because it might appear inappropriate on a TV show. We wanted to know why our daughter died and Al-Bayati is uniquely qualified in his field.

From what I understand, there are very few dual board certified toxicologists with a degree in comparative human pathology with the experience he has in unexplained death in children and fewer still with the record he has for taking unpopular positions when the facts lead him there. Several pathologists who concluded the same as Al-Bayati would not put their name on a report or speak for the record. They wanted no part of the controversy.

Despite the risks of being associated with me, Al-Bayati’s report has been accepted for publication in a medical journal with 11 medical doctors and a dozen scientists on their review board who don’t know me, and I have no idea who they are either.

Please note we have not paid Al-Bayati for his autopsy analysis and his board position with Alive & Well always has been that of an unpaid advisor.

Ultimately, the facts are the facts and the facts are what must stand up to challenge.

Thanks again for writing,

Christine

Submitted CommentBettie Malofie, Manitoba, Canada
 I saw ABC Primetime a couple of hours ago. Christine did a good job. How very difficult this must have been. Jay Gordon seemed to me to be trying to cover his ass – “AIDS” indeed. There was not enough information given on the contents of Dr. Al-Bayati's report, but I guess to go any farther than “allergy to Amoxicillin” would tax John Sixpack’s brain.
Submitted CommentJoel Smith, Asheville, North Carolina
 I am very disappointed with the slant of the ABC Primetime story. They seem to dismiss Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati as only a board member and author of a book. They also cited an “independent medical examiner” who agrees with the coroner without giving a name. Maybe I’m missing something but, to me, it is obvious to which side ABC slants in this issue.
A writer whose life was turned around by Christine Maggiore recollects this, and comments on the ABC Primetime television showKen Murray, Orlando, Florida
 I met Christine Maggiore approximately 2 years ago following the announcement from a girl I had been dating that she tested positive for HIV. Prior to this, I was what I have since described as a self-proclaimed AIDS Nazi…I implored my girlfriend to ignore the ‘wisdom’ of her doctor to ‘aggressively treat this condition with anti-AIDS drugs’. She, to this day, credits the fact that Christine’s book ultimately saved her life. My ex-girlfriend has since consistently tested negative to HIV ever since…According to the woman at the end of the ABC segment, those mothers who test positive for HIV and whose children who subsequently test positive should be either forced to consume dangerous chemicals (failed cancer chemotherapy drugs) or separated from their parents and then fed those dangerous toxins as wards of the state. Wake up America ...
Did HIV-Positive Mom's Beliefs Put Her Children at Risk?ABC Primetime
 ABC Primetime aired their show, including interviews with Eliza Jane's parents, Dr. Al-Bayati and James Ribe on December 8th, significantly raising interest in this story. Unfortunately the TV program was slanted towards the coroner's side of the story, perhaps in an attempt to make it seem much more black and white than it really is, or perhaps because they felt that they had to give more weight to the LA coroner's office, based on its perceived status in the community.