In her new autobiography, R&B singer Toni Braxton said that she believes God gave her 11-year-old son autism as punishment for an abortion she had years before.
The drug, which shrinks and eliminates sebum-producing cells in the skin, was first used as a chemotherapy drug for pancreatic and brain cancers. Women are urged not to take the drug if they are pregnant or may become pregnant because the chemical attacks rapidly reproducing cells like those of a developing fetus. Embryos exposed to the drug can have severe birth defects.
The risk to unborn children is so great that doctors often prescribe two forms of birth control to women who take Accutane.
Braxton said she had to terminate the pregnancy, but only with “major misgivings.”
“I was suddenly faced with a choice I’d never thought I’d have to make.” she said. “Amid my major misgivings about abortion, I eventually made the gut-wrenching decision.”
“In my heart, I believed I had taken a life,” Braxton said, “an action that I thought God might one day punish me for…My initial rage was quickly followed by another strong emotion: guilt. I knew I’d taken a life.”
Years later, retribution came, she said, “I believed God’s payback was to give my son autism.”
Autism is little understood and its causes are still a mystery. However, it is clear now that studies liking autism to mercury in childhood vaccines have been thoroughly debunked. Nonetheless, thousands of parents are opting not to vaccinate their children, leading to a resurgence of diseases like pertussis and diphtheria.
Braxton gave a nod to the anti-vaccination believers by noting that she first noted changes in her son’s behavior “after my son’s first MMR vaccine.”
UPDATE: A reader pointed out that Braxton later said that her son’s autism diagnosis was incorrect. SFGate reported that the singer told People magazine, “I thought I was being punished for having an abortion. But I realized there is nothing wrong with my baby. He just learns differently.”