Christina Hildebrand went down a rabbit hole and emerged at the state house in Sacramento.
That’s how she describes it—going down a rabbit hole—and in her case it happened 14 years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child. In a world filled with chemicals and toxins, processed foods and GMOs, she decided her baby would be brought up as naturally and chemical-free as possible. It was when she was researching how best to achieve that goal that she bumped into vaccines.
That was a bad time to begin thinking about such things. The fraudulent 1998 paper by British physician Andrew Wakefield ostensibly linking vaccines to autism had not yet been retracted, and American celebrities, led by former model Jenny McCarthy, would soon begin making talk-show hay on that phony idea. Hildebrand didn’t like what she was hearing.
“The vaccination issue is a choice,” she says. “If you choose to be vaccinated for the measles, then you’re covered. You don’t need to worry about somebody who is not vaccinated.”
Hildebrand will not disclose what choice she made for her own children. “Their medical history is private and not something I care to share,” she said in an email to TIME. But she’s less reticent about her views on vaccines as a whole. Owner of a market- research firm in San Francisco, she is also the founder of A Voice for Choice, an advocacy group