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The irony of opposing HPV vaccination

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2011

As we discussed earlier today, some conservative Christians find Rick Perry, a Southern Baptist politician, an unacceptable choice for president because he supported the vaccination of young Texas women to prevent their possible future infection with the human papillomavirus. Firmly believing that the wages of sin is death – and should damn well stay that way – they oppose any efforts to inoculate for a virus that is spread primarily through sexual behavior.

I believe that much of this opposition is based in a fear that their literalist faith might be losing relevancy. Should a moral code no longer provide an observable service – such as protection from disease and unhappiness – then it becomes an arbitrary set of rules imposed by a capricious deity at his whim. So it is important to them that HPV – and it’s correlation with cancer – remain associated with sinners.

You can sense the desperation in this comment on the American Family Association’s website from Sally in Pennsylvania:

Sorry… Christian or not, I cannot support any candidate who signed an executive order to mandate a series of painful vaccinations for 12 year old girls – FOR AN STD that’s preventable by BEHAVIOR! On top of that, there was no provision to allow parents to opt their child out until enough pressure was put on him and he gave in. That’s a pretty clear indication as to where he stands on the issue of parental authority versus state control on the raising of children. No thanks.

But what Sally hasn’t realized is that she may her way; HPV may well remain associated with a group.

Should sufficient numbers of people refuse vaccination, the virus will continue to have a distinct pool in which to replicate and a strong correlation will become detectable. Soon, should Sally’s thinking prevail, HPV and the correlating cervical cancer rates will come to be associated with conservative Christianity.

Comments

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Tony P
September 15th, 2011 | LINK

I am on who believes that the HPV vaccine should be given to pre-pubescent children, both male and female.

Sure, we know HPV leads to cervical cancers in women, but it also causes genital warts. And those can lead to cancer in males too.

So vaccinate all of us. Put an end to HPV.

Laura
September 15th, 2011 | LINK

“Painful Vaccinations”? A bit of an exaggeration. It’s a series of 3 shots given over a 6 month period. No different than any other type of shot. My daughter had them when she was 12 because her doctor said she should. No big deal.

Sarah
September 15th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t disagree that there’s been a lot of nonsensical hysteria around the Gardisil vaccine, however, I do have issue with compulsory vaccination with a compound that is so new. If you choose to test the vaccine on your kids (ie if you think that its benefits outweigh its risks), then that should be your choice. If not, you need to have the option to not vaccinate. I haven’t got kids yet, but I would really have to weigh the risk/benefit analysis on this one and I wouldn’t appreciate having that choice taken from me as a parent. Other communicable disease vaccines are different; they have generations of tests proving that they’re essentially safe. Gardisil is new and would worry me as a parent. I wouldn’t appreciate being told that I was required to possibly take a risk with my child’s health.

TampaZeke
September 15th, 2011 | LINK

These people who are outraged over the “painful” HPV vaccinations given to girls are, TO A MAN, big supporters of involuntary male circumcision, which of course is painless.

Priya Lynn
September 15th, 2011 | LINK

Laura said ““Painful Vaccinations”? A bit of an exaggeration.”.

Depends on who you are. Needles freak me out, I whatever I can to avoid them. No flu shots for me.

Erin
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

Of course I never agree with religious hysteria over sex ed, contraceptives, and now vaccinations, but from a political standpoint, I think the vaccinations should have been made available, but should not be mandatory. I think this is a favor to a pharmaceutical lobbyist and nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, I think people should get it if it has been tested enough and is proven to prevent the disease without horrible side effects. But it should not be forced on people, especially on the taxpayer dime.

Ben In Oakland
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy– it might mean the same thing, but i doubt that the issue is about conservative Christianity fearing losing its moral authority.

I think it is three factors that are intertwined. Factor One is the absolute obsession with sex and sin and their man-deciding-as-god ordained equivalence that seems to represent the dark heart of so much conservative– by its own self-description– religion. It’s one of the reasons why such people as George Rekers and Alan (the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, but holiness)Chambers exist. (And at least in my view, holiness is all that AC is ever going to accomplish, if you don’t count the hypocrisy part against him. By his own words, it appears that heterosexuality has possibly eluded him).

And of course, that leads us to Factor 2. Homosex is the worst kind of sexual sin, as forbidden, dark, twisted and queerly attractive as it is.

And the worst kind of homosex is the unrepentant kind. I am coming to understand the problem with the statement “Oh, we’re all sinners here. Homosexuals are no worse than the rest of us. So you see, we’re not homophobic or prejudiced, we’re not making an extra-special-icky sin of homosex. No judgment there. No siree.”

Oh, yes they are. Yes, indeedy, but they are trying desperately to convince themselves they are not. They are doing it by creating TWO classes of sinners, one repentant, one not. and guess who are the superior brand of sinners? Guess who’s not judging, but just reporting? Guess who’s not smug, just forgiven? Guess who get’s a get-out-of-hell free card, and guess who doesn’t?

It’s not that they’re afraid of losing their moral authority, it’s that they are afraid of losing their belief in their sense of their otherwise wholly imaginary spiritual superiority… really, their entire stock of spiritual cachet.

Not to mention, for some people at least, a paycheck.

And that leads to factor 3: Control. Control of others. Control of oneself. Punishment of others is the prevention of punishment directed at oneself, or what is a scapegoat for. George rekers is the perfect example, as sterling a representaive of the hypocrite class that he is. (Not that that is the only issue with the likes of him. I’m sure power, money, and approval are almost as good as a long stroke).

Sex equals freedom, and if other people are allowed to make those decisions, and worse, without consequence, why then, Harry Hypocrite could also make that decision. With great freedom comes great responsibility, and that is entirely antithetical to conservative Christianity. “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all”. You were born bad, you are bad, you can never be good, you can only beg for forgiveness, and only the supreme sacrifice of Jesus can save a wretch like you (P.S.– send money).

So, I guess you can chalk it up to fear of losing their moral authority. I fear you are being far kinder to them than I feel like being.

Désirée
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

Do parents have the right to withhold vaccinations from their children? Is mandatory vaccination a government imposition? As a Libertarian, I seriously question anything the government says I “must” do. However, in this case, the government is looking out for the best interests of the child. It is clear that their are parents out there who would opt out of this vaccination not because of possible risks but because of ideology, thus putting their children in danger because of the adults beliefs. We, as a society, have already decided this is not acceptable and have punished parents who, for example, refuse to take their child to a doctor because of their religious beliefs. How is this different?

Also, I know we like to say that we Americans are lone wolfs and it’s all about personal responsibility and we just want government to leave us alone; however, in the case of a communicable disease, it isn’t just about you or your child, it’s about all the other people in society that your child can transmit the disease to and the associated health care costs. So unless you are going to homeschool your kid and prevent them from having any contact with the outside world, I don’t have a problem with society (via government) saying “your child must be vaccinated against these diseases if you want them to be a part of the society we have built.” In Randian terms, it’s perfectly selfish for me to want your kids to be vaccinated because I don’t want my kids to catch anything from them.

Steve
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

And when Sally’s daughter, who is one of the few who actually did save herself for marriage, marries a guy who didn’t and is carrying the HPV virus, what will she think then?

Laura
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

“Painful vaccinations”? I’ve never had cervical cancer but I’m willing to bet that the shots are much less painful than that. Sadly we can’t ask the 450,000 women that die of cervical cancer every year which was worse.

Priya Lynn
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

A number of people here have decried mandatory vaccinations. The vaccinations weren’t mandatory, there was an opt out – no one was forced to do anything.

Ben said “It’s not that they’re afraid of losing their moral authority, it’s that they are afraid of losing their belief in their sense of their otherwise wholly imaginary spiritual superiority…”.

Oh, I think its both, Ben.

Laura said ““Painful vaccinations”? I’ve never had cervical cancer but I’m willing to bet that the shots are much less painful than that.”.

Good point, I never thought of that.

Diego
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

It’s not being stressed enough that boys should be vaccinated too. They might not get cervical cancer, but they are the primary carriers of the virus. On top of that, as gay men we should realize HPV can still cause throat and anal cancer. We shouldn’t leave out a generation of young gays to be exposed to potential cancer.

Timothy (TRiG)
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

Désirée,

Vaccinations only really work when they create “herd immunity”. Opting out of vaccinations is antisocial behaviour.

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

I am not in favor of governmental forced anything, pretty much.

However, small government libertarians – with whom I share significant ideology – must remember that government does have a role. And while that role might not be “choose your child’s health options”, it does include protecting citizens from threats. HPV is more than a health choice, it’s a societal threat.

Few libertarians would argue that polio vaccines were undue imposition of the government on the people. Few would argue that the World Health Organization should immediately stop tracking influenza or making the flu shot vaccine available. (And that’s not even Federal, it’s multi-national).

Pandemics are issues that individuals simply don’t have the capacity to address. And in today’s global economy with rapid emigration, local decision making on such an issue may be a bit pointless. States are about as small an entity as can have any relevant approach to HPV.

Andrew
September 16th, 2011 | LINK

I would support any insurance company that refused to pay — or capped — claims on any woman eligible for Gardasil who refused to take preventative care, but later developed cancer as a result. Folks who didn’t have access to the vaccine, or folks for whom the vaccine didn’t work would be in a different category. But this whole “the facts are up for debate” and “science is just another belief system” nonsense is imperiling all of us.

BlackDog
September 17th, 2011 | LINK

“But this whole “the facts are up for debate” and “science is just another belief system” nonsense is imperiling all of us.”

I’m getting to the point where I think “Stupid should hurt” is what I feel regarding these matters.

As for people who think that the threat of a dangerous disease will somehow enforce their personal morality code on anybody…and try to act on this. I honestly think that kind of behavior is downright anti-social and dangerous…and ought to be illegal.
First amendment be damned you can’t play with a community’s health like that.

That’s not shouting fire in a crowded theater…it’s placing smoldering embers in people’s backpacks.
Believe what you want…but when your beliefs start endangering the general public…then they become a problem and while you are free to believe that you should not be free to practice it.

To use a hypothetical…would these people be in favor of not providing a vaccine to protect against a Zombie Apocalypse Virus if such a virus broke out, but a preventative vaccine of some kind were available…on the grounds that Zombies are “Of the Devil” and only bad people will get bit by them??

Why some of these things are even issues, I don’t know. The flip side to unlimited freedom of thought in America was that…when they came up with this the framers of the constitution assumed people would keep THINKING and not engage in unthinking stupidity.

Charles
September 18th, 2011 | LINK

To really control the HPV virus mass inoculations are in my opinion necessary. Public health officials need to step forward and educate the public about the vaccine. Someone said that Perry had worked out a deal with Merck to give inoculations at a greatly reduced price to the teenager getting the vaccine…..which sounds great to me. Also, it might be noted that people who do get the vaccine will need to get booster shots. And, the amount of time between getting the vaccination and a booster shot has not been determined. Also, there is a test to determine if you already have the HPV virus. So if you have he virus there is no need to get the vaccine.

Marauder
September 18th, 2011 | LINK

Saying people are mad because he “supported the vaccination of young Texas women” is disingenuous, and I would think a site as fact-oriented as this one probably realizes that. People are mad because he mandated the vaccination of pre-teen girls. I don’t blame them. If kids got HPV vaccines, it should be because their parents made that decision, not because the government said, “Your kid’s getting this vaccine unless you go out of your way to make sure she doesn’t.”

Priya Lynn
September 18th, 2011 | LINK

Maurader, when there’s an opt out the vaccine isn’t mandatory.

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