Water fluoridation is compulsory mass medication, in breach of human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled by a majority vote. It confirmed that fluoridation is a medical treatment as claimed by opponents for over 60 years. It is not a supplement “just topping up natural levels”, as claimed by the Ministry of Health.
The impracticality of avoiding fluoridated water makes it compulsory in practice, the majority also ruled.
Three judges held that there was conflicting scientific evidence, confirming that the science is NOT settled.
Chief Justice Sian Elias then held that fluoridation was not prescribed by law (i.e. is unlawful), applying section 6 of the Bill of Rights Act. That was the correct decision in Fluoride Free NZ’s view.
The rest of the majority held that it was prescribed by law, and it was then necessary to apply a balancing test to determine if the breach of the right – not to be subject to medical treatment without consent – was justified in the case of fluoridation.
Justice Glazebrook held that it was for a local authority to do this when making its decision, potentially taking into account specific local circumstances.
On the balance of information before the Court – the misinformation promulgated by promoters that water fluoridation measurably reduces tooth decay and presents no real health risk – two judges held that it was justifiable. This is despite the court reiterating that it is now accepted that benefit for fluoride is from topical application, not from ingestion.
The Court did not consider information published since the original High Court case, and the recent US Government multi-million-dollar study by Bashash et al, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, carried out by top scientists and researchers in top North American universities – had not yet been published. This study found that children exposed to fluoride at the same levels as New Zealanders had significantly reduced IQ, which could easily have shifted the Justices’ perception of safety.
Importantly, the Court held that this question of whether fluoridation is justifiable is to be determined on the balance of probabilities. There is no requirement for absolute proof of harm, as long-maintained by the Ministry of Health. As a question of fact, the two judges’ conclusion is not binding on any lower court or any statutory decision maker. With the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence that water fluoridation is ineffective and poses significant health risks, this opens the door to end the practice at any time.
The majority held that tooth decay was a condition in the community that a local council could address (through fluoridation) under section 23 of the Health Act. It necessarily follows that any aspect of health in the community, good or bad, must also fall under section 23. This includes the current IQ level of inhabitants. Therefore a local council is required to protect that condition under section 23. So if, on the balance of probabilities, water fluoridation reduces IQ significantly – and half a standard deviation (5 points on the scale used in recent studies) is significant – a council must not implement fluoridation, and in fact must cease it if it is currently in place. Arguably, this mandatory requirement would override any direction that a District Health Board might give a council under the proposed legislation currently before Parliament.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled fluoridation is medical treatment without consent, and with the mounting evidence that it is ineffective and carries significant health risks, it is time for politicians and the health sector to rethink the practice. Its days are clearly numbered following this judgment.
Celebrity Chef Pete Evans commented saying “So I gather that NZ now has a big conflict between its Ministry of “Health” and the Hight Court ruling – and there is now an opening for legal actions on the “breach of human rights” and public safety issues – these are what stopped Fluoridation in 98% of Europe.
So it could mean the end of Fluoridation NZ wide on legal technicalities, and that would ripple across to Australia, at least in terms of public condemnation of the practice which is growing by the day”.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of New Health (The consumer advocate group that challenged the Council) But the High Court has ruled the opposite way. Like in Australia the High Court overrules the Supreme.
“Additional Information on New Zealand Supreme Court Ruling”
from Paul Connett, PhD, Executive Director, FAN USA
“Some of our readers were puzzled yesterday by FAN NZ broadcasting the Supreme Court verdict on fluoridation as a victory rather than a defeat. After all the Supreme court ruled against the plaintiffs (New Health New Zealand) in their efforts to prevent South Taranaki from fluoridating its water.
Let me explain, in my view, this is a classic case of losing a battle but winning the war.
In this case, the war is over the ethics of fluoridation. For opponents of fluoridation, this practice violates the individual’s right to medical or human treatment. For proponents the counter-argument has been that fluoride is not a medicine and fluoridation is not a medical treatment. Proponents further argue that even if fluoride was a medicine people are not forced to drink the fluoridated water.
In the following two paragraphs (99 and 100) in the Supreme court ruling it is clear that the judges side with opponents on this matter and this finding will have huge ramifications worldwide. In other words it is a huge victory for us. Meanwhile, proponents will celebrate their local victory.
Applying this approach, we find that fluoridation of drinking water is the provision of medical treatment. It involves the provision of a pharmacologically active substance for the purpose of treating those who ingest it for dental decay. We agree with the Courts below that people who live or work in areas where fluoridation occurs have no practical option but to ingest the fluoride added to the water. So
the treatment is compulsory. While drinking water from a tap is not an activity that would normally be classified as undergoing medical treatment, we do not consider that ingesting fluoride added to water can be said to be qualitatively different from ingesting a fluoride tablet provided by a health practitioner.
We conclude that fluoridation of drinking water requires those drinking the water to undergo medical treatment in circumstances where they are unable to refuse to do so. Subject to s5, therefore, s11 of the Bill of Rights Act is engaged.
To see how that local victory was won you will have to read the paragraphs 101 – 144 in the ruling. But basically, they argue that the individual right to informed consent to medication (section 11 of the NZ Bill or Rights) may in certain circumstances be over-ridden by the interests of the larger community (see section 5). However, the judges somewhat undermined these arguments by earlier acknowledging in paragraph 10 that the benefits of fluoridation are largely topical, and as such allowing individuals the right to informed consent in this case would not deprive the rest of society of fluoride’s perceived benefits since there is universal access to fluoridated toothpaste.
Another important point is that when the issue was being heard the US-government funded study by Bashash et al., 2017 had not been published. Had the judges known about this important and rigorous study, it is questionable whether they would they have felt it was in the interests of the larger community to support a practice which would lower the IQ of its children?”
Paul Connett, PhD
Fluoride Action Network
Media Coverage of Bashash study
Below are some of the responses that were published to the Bashash et al. study which was released on September 19, 2017.
Disappointingly, no major U.S. media reported the story (CNN first ran it at midnight and Newsweek is only in digital format). One would think the media would be interested as this was a government-funded study to evaluate the cognitive effect of fluoride exposure in the womb on the offspring. And an effect was reported: the loss of 5 to 6 IQ points. No print, TV or radio in any large city across the U.S. made mention of it.