Kelly Sutton is a California-based MD who practices anthroposophic medicine, a branch of woo pretty much as quacky as it gets. According to her website, she “bases her diagnosis in part on conventional medicine,” but also asserts that “[s]ignificant understanding arises from listening to aspects of an individual’s biography, life purpose, the emotional context of illness and health, and understanding the level of vitality and strength of the life forces.” She then “treats acute and chronic illness using the least toxic effective treatment for the condition. Anthroposophic remedies (low potency homeopathic preparations and herbs), diet, nutritional supplements, healthy rhythm, warmth are some of the foundational principles she employs.” Not a doctor to consult if you suffer from acute illness, in other words, and yes: there will be homeopathy.
However, Sutton is probably more notable for having made a bit of a career as an ally of the antivaccine movement, for instance by offering webinars on how conspiracy-minded antivaccine parents can circumvent the requirements of California’s SB277 by seeking medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. For instance, her seminar “Step-by-step Program to Help Protect Your Child from the ‘One Size Fits All’ California Vaccine Mandate!” promises you the “tools and knowledge you need to protect your rights as a parent [yes: it’s all about the parents’ rights; the rights of children not to be medically neglected or protected from potentially life-threatening diseases rarely even cross these people’s minds] to choose the healthcare of your child” and to take you “from cornered to confident” for the meager sum of $27 if you take advantage of the early bird special. She does claim that she is neither antivaccine nor pro-vaccine – her claim to take you from “cornered to confident” sort of suggests otherwise – but “pro-parent”: again, the child isn’t even on the radar. She also tells parents to trust themselves and that no one cares more or knows more, which is, of course, false, but an effective marketing gambit. The webinars are otherwise full of standard antivaccine misinformation and gambits, including “vaccines didn’t save us” and “Pasteur was wrong”. Kelly Sutton’s practices are, in other words, hardcore antivaccine; indeed, she even says that she sees “daily in my practice evidence of vaccine injury and I hear stories almost every day of families that vaccinate children and then decide not to vaccinate and the unvaccinated children within the same family are healthier, more socially adjusted and more capable academically even though their parents are older than the siblings who were born first and were fully vaccinated.” Which is what is otherwise known as confirmation bias – unless it’s lying, of course; perhaps her claim that she’s neither here nor there should be interpreted as not caring too much about whether she actually believes the claims she is making.
Fortunately the Medical Board of California was not impressed, and placed Sutton, together with fellow antivaccine-promoting doctors Bob Sears, Michael Fielding Allen, Ron Kennedy and Kenneth Stoller – yes, there is a whole cottage industry here – under investigation in 2019 (“We feel this doctor and perhaps her colleagues … are making easy money on these exemptions that are not based on true medical need and are actually putting children and other people in the community at risk for contracting and spreading serious infectious diseases,” stated the complaint, and a physician review of the exemptions found Sutton’s exemptions “either of questionable validity or patently without medical basis”). The court petition is here.
Diagnosis: Hard to tell whether she is insane or just spineless, but the two are not mutually exclusive. And the exemptions written by Sutton, Sears and some of their colleagues are actually increasing the likelihood of disease outbreaks that are likely to lead to deaths, which makes Sutton a genuine threat to public health and life. And just think about it: Sutton had the skills and perseverance needed to learn a trade where she could actually make the world a better place, yet this is what she ended up doing. What a waste of life and talent! It’s actually deeply tragic.
Hat-tip: Science-based medicine