I have been in natural parenting circles in the past and it has always been the one and only off limits topic. Recently, I joined a new parenting group, in my new area. The group intends to meet every other month, discussing various topics.
The first month is going to be babywearing. Everyone is very excited. Veterans get to show off their stash. Newcomers get to try them out. We get to see store bought items and one people have made themselves. Sounds like great fun! An opportunity to share ideas and learn new exciting things.
Then the next meets subject came up.... Vaccinations. The topic was going to be lead by a non vax'er. A debate broke out on Facebook before we could even get to our first meeting. Moms who want to learn more about not vaccinating simply could not understand why it was a big deal to the moms who had already made the decision to vax. In the end the group decided the second regular meeting would be about natural remedies instead. And the vaccine discussion would be held at a different time just for those who had the desire to learn more and support one another. I think this was a great compromise. This way pro vaccinators don't feel alienated by the group.
But back to the main question! Why is it so touchy? The main reason is because no matter how hard the person may try, there is no way to discuss not vaccinating without attacking the other side. The topic itself has to be presented as a negative. As of right now there are no proven alternatives to vaccinations to be "FOR". You can only be against vaccinations. I guess you could be for "natural exposure". As some are with the less serious diseases such as chicken pox. Obviously though this isn't going to work for all the things we vax for. No one is going to hold a meningitis or polio party. Or you could say you are Pro Isolation until after the high risk age. I don't think this would be very appealing. Or even Pro Piggy Back... sorry that wasn't nice. But a fine example of how hard it is to talk about this without getting defensive. Someone said they didn't see why it had to be a debate. The definition of a debate is:
1. A discussion involving opposing points; an argument.
When you have a topic that you can't discuss specific benefits to, only the cons of the other side. It is inherently a debate. Avoidance really isn't a benefit. When talking about disease prevention and irradication, it's really a lose/lose situation. You either take an active risk of side effects or a passive risk of disease. In the same respect avoiding disease isn't a "benefit" to vaccinating.
Someone also suggested that any topic we cover could be construed as controversial. It may be true that a too opinionated person could attack the other side of any subject but, every other topic can be discussed independently. We could hand out pamphlets on babywearing about the benefits without painting a portrait of strollers being evil DOOMbuggies! Lol You could have an entire talk about babywearing without ever mentioning the word stroller. You can also be Pro Homebirth without being anti hospital, Pro breastfeeding without anti formula, Pro Cosleeping without anti bedding close by or crib. Heck if done right you could have a pro intact discussion without mentioning circumcision. You can be pro life without necessarily being anti choice, or even completely anti abortion. Personally I am Prolife but in favor of a womans right to choose when to engage in a procreative act. If that right is taken from her I also believe "life" starts at a heartbeat. Therefor in my book the morning after pill is no more abortive than breastfeeding. Anyway... I get sidetracked easily... You could even be a pro delayed or alternitive schedule vax'er, or talk about the albeit very short list of benefits of vaccinating without bashing those who don't vaccinate.
So there you have it. I believe this is the perception of most vaccinating families and why it's so touchy. Everyone has their reasons why they make the parenting choices they do but not everyone wants to feel as if they need to defend that decision to a support group. Not to mention it is very hard when you feel attacked not to attack back.
Lastly, I would like to take a moment to thank the group leader for that night for respecting all of the moms without fully understanding why it was necessary. I know that we all want to support each other and not hurt each others feelings. I hope I haven't offended anyone in this post.