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Let's See, Should We Prevent Cancer Or "Promiscuity"?
Fabulous news! There may be a vaccine soon against HPV, Human Papilloma Virus, which causes cervical cancer. Naturally, this brings the dimwits out, with the contention that vaccinating all middle school students against it will lead to premarital sex. (Horrors!) For the record, I've had premarital sex during most of my life, and it has yet to scar me. On a common sense note, since "studies have indicated that 4-out-of-5 sexually active teen girls are infected with the virus," it doesn't seem getting HPV is actually topping the list of teen concerns...hence, not getting HPV probably isn't going to be a big motivator either way:

Some question the ethics of universal inoculation against a sexually transmitted disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are considering the recommendation of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for every 12 year old, a proposal that some are applauding for its medical benefit, but that others are criticizing on ethical grounds.

If the CDC accepts the recommendation, it could lead to states requiring boys and girls to be vaccinated for the sexually transmitted disease before they enter middle school.

..More than 10,000 American women each year are diagnosed with cancer or precancerous cells caused by HPV, and 3,700 of them will die. Eighty times that number will die worldwide. A vaccine could prevent nearly all those deaths according to Dr. Reginald Finger, an immunologist.

"The vaccine would have the potential of preventing against infection acquired in adulthood in marriage, or in a sexual assault or from any sexual risk throughout the lifespan," he said. "Our intent is to do all we can to benefit health, so long as you don't cross an ethical or bioethical barrier in doing so."

But Dr. Hal Wallis, an obstetrician / gynecologist and chairman of the Physicians Consortium, argued that giving this vaccine to every child crosses that barrier.

"We're going to be sending a message to a lot of kids that you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want and it's not going to be a problem," he said. "That's just not true."

Don't be fooled by the bland name or professions of objectivity. Wallis' Physicians Consortium looks to me like a thinly disguised fundanutter organization masquerading as objective. Here's one of their member organizations, the Arkansas Family Council, and a few words from a letter on their site:

The Arkansas Physicians Resource Council (APRC) is a group of physicians (either active or retired) whose mission is to influence public policy (from a pro-life, pro-family perspective and encourage and equip physicians to live out their faith in their family, practice and community.

...The APRC is a division of Family Council, the state associate of Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. There is a national PRC, which serves mainly as an advisory group to Dr. Dobson on bio-medical issues. Almost twenty states now have their own state PRC, and according to Focus on the Family the Arkansas PRC is one of the most successful in the nation.

The APRC was founded in 1998 through the primary efforts of Dr. Bill Benton, Dr. Skip Fine, Jr. and Jerry Cox, Executive Director of Family Council. The issue of opposing physician-assisted suicide (PAS) was key in our early formation and support. We gained passage of a bill banning PAS in Arkansas, thus avoiding a referendum on the subject. The APRC has also sponsored conferences with nationally renowned speakers on bio-medical ethics and other topics. Many Christian physicians, as members of the APRC, have supported the group or benefited from our conferences, newsletters, or legislative updates. Several of us have served on the Executive Committee (the leadership team) under Drs. Benton and Fine.

As encouraging as these events have been, those of us deeply involved in the APRC have felt that something might be missing. After all, the State Legislature only meets for 3-4 months every other year. So in addition to addressing key political and social issues, we must also engage our world as spouses, parents, physicians and citizens. We all know that balancing our duties, and being an active Christian, in all those jobs—not to mention being active in the life of our church—is not easy. Shouldn’t our public policy group try to address those issues too?

How about your private policy addresses those issues, and you leave the rest of us alone?

HPV link via Metafilter

Posted by aalkon at November 2, 2005 8:51 AM

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i've always found it odd tat these people who claim moral superiority are willing to do just about anythong to prevent abortions, including killing in some cases

yet for some reason find a way to turn curing illness into a bad thing

why is it this morons are all about personal responisbility unitl the person making a decision makes one they dont like

Posted by: john at November 2, 2005 11:47 AM

Hmm.. A vacine that will rid the human population of a cancer that kills thousands. Good!!!

Will cause teeners to openly attend gang-bang sessions at the middle school. Bad!!!

Ignorant arrogant morons. What if someone finally comes up with a vacine that will rid the earth of the scourge that is AIDS? Something that must be given to infants in thier first year. I bet you would be able to find some of these same type of "people" (used loosely).

Ignorant arrogant morons... What a sad lot they are.

Posted by: Bret at November 2, 2005 11:50 AM

Just in case somebody missed this, Dr. Wallis is an imbecile. This shot is "sending the message that you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want and it's not going to be a problem". Well, except for HIV, little clemmie, the hep, gonorrhea, herpes, crabs, pregnancy, etc., etc., etc. Ooops, must have forgot about all those in the excitement of condemning a life saving vaccination cause some moron (likely out of his gene pool) might think they don't need protection anymore.

Posted by: Christina at November 2, 2005 5:40 PM

"We're going to be sending a message to a lot of kids that you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want...

This guy must never have had a teenage kid. Teenagers barely hear the messages you send them directly and clearly! Now he expects them pick up on something indirectly, arguably inferred by an action (vaccine) completely unrelated to the supposed message (have sex).

I guess the conservative kids get this message because their parents explain that this vaccine would give them permission to have sex and that's why they can't be protected by it. But those kids would be safe anyway, because, of course, conservative kids NEVER have sex before marriage. (Cf recent study on teen "celibacy until marriage" pledges, which result in virtually the same rate of teen sex, pregnancies, STDs, etc., as kids who don't take the pledge).

Posted by: Melissa at November 2, 2005 5:56 PM

Seems to me the obvious solution would be to offer the immunization but not require it. Any children whose parents have "moral" objections could simply opt out, and be left to ponder the error of their ways if and when their kids develop HPV.
No fuss, no muss.


Posted by: Noel Erinjeri at November 3, 2005 6:38 AM

Sorry, Noel. Punishing the kids for errors of the parents is Biblical (unto the 3rd and 4th generation,yet) but hardly current morality. These brainwashed give idiocy a bad name. There's a difference between not having intellectual capacity and refusing to use it.

Posted by: opit at November 3, 2005 7:37 AM

Two responses, one practical, one ideological

Practical- as most kids would have probably have the vaccination, allowing a few kids to wander around without it would not pose much of a risk, particularly since a) the disease is an STD and therefore you can't get it by airborne transmission and b) I suspect (though I have no numbers) that children with parents whose ideological blinkers are this strong would be less likely to have sex anyway.
If we can eliminate a major source of opposition toward vaccination, the bottom line is that more people get vaccinated. Also factor in the more vaccinated people there are, the less likely an unvaccinated person is to come in contact with another unvaccinated person.
In other words, making HPV vaccination voluntary is an acceptable risk.

Ideological- there's a question as to what extent the State should substitute its judgement for that of a child's parents. There are cases where it should, but suppose a parent wanted to send her child to a school where evolution is not taught, and in fact actively derided. Should the state disallow this on the grounds that Creationism is incorrect? Or should the parents be allowed to completely warp the kid's understanding of science? Similar with withholding STD vaccinations. I concede it's a stupid thing to do, but on the other hand the right of a parent to screw up their kids while not actually abusing them is fairly sacrosanct.



Posted by: Noel Erinjeri at November 3, 2005 8:19 AM

I suspect (though I have no numbers) that children with parents whose ideological blinkers are this strong would be less likely to have sex anyway.

Studies and statistics do not bear this out - in fact, a recent study found that kids who participate in a "promise ring" program (a Christian right program where kids promise not to have sex before marriage, and wear a ring as a symbol) have the same rates of pre-marital sex and the same rates of teen pregnancy as the control group. And at the same ages - it doesn't even delay sexual activity.

Your idiological musings are kind of beside the point, because states can't mandate vaccines. For example, in California (and probably most states), you are required by law to provide proof that your kid has had certain vaccines in order to enroll in school (even private schools). But you have the right to provide an exemption form instead. So we're really talking about whether the vaccines would be offered at schools - that being an efficient way to reach the relevant population - not whether they would be required.

Posted by: Melissa at November 3, 2005 2:57 PM

and here i thought that vaccines were supposed to be used BEFORE exposing the individual to the risk.

go ahead at let the morons not let their kids get the vaccine. one, it will reduce the opposition, thereby allowing more to be vaccinated. two, parents should have the responsibility to make the right decisions raising their kids. if they're idiots, and they make bad decisions, hopefully eventually their kids will learn not to be an idiot like their parents. if not, oh well. the government's job is to ensure that they have the opportunity to become educated, not to raise them itself. why do people think the government should be involved in parenting?

Posted by: g*mart at November 3, 2005 11:54 PM


In that case, no big deal. The idiots can huff and puff all they want, but won't get anywhere. The 99% of reponsible parents aren't going to let their children's health be held hostage in order to cater to the silly prejudices of the Jerry Falwells of the world.


Posted by: Noel at November 4, 2005 3:51 AM

Noel, sadly, I'm afraid I'm not as optimistic as you that logic and responsible parents will prevail. The idiots can be very vocal about their views of what should and should not be allowed in schools, and unfortunately, school authorities (more often than not) will not stand up and do the right thing when faced with anything remotely controversial. Or they are also idiots who agree with the parent idiots. Or the rational parents assume that logic will prevail, and don't bother to voice their opposition. Or some combination thereof.

So the idiots could actually prevent these vaccines from being offered at schools, even if the idiots' kids can easily opt out. Imho, the radical right wing Christian agenda isn't just to make sure they have control over what happens to their lives and their kids - they want to make sure everyone either agrees with them, or at least toes their party line.

Posted by: Melissa at November 4, 2005 6:33 PM


Your humble opinion is correct, in my humble opinion...nevertheless, I wouldn't worry about it too much. After all, the actual physical act of vaccination probably wouldn't take place on school grounds, but rather somewhere like a doctor's office. The school's role would be be restricted to things like providing information about where to get vaccinated, and such. Hypothetically, the idiots could try to suppress such information, but that's a much more difficult proposition.


Posted by: Noel at November 4, 2005 8:11 PM

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