Skip to comments.Playing Politics With Little Girls’ Lives
Posted on 09/17/2011 3:24:41 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Candidates who bring the HPV vaccine into the political arena are playing with fire.
You and I are just getting to know one another. While Ive been writing a twice-weekly opinion column for Wilton Patch for the last year, and readers there are more familiar with where I stand on many things, this Patch In column is only in its third week. I thought wed take it slow.
Earlier this week someone sent me the link to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. It was about GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachmanns recent comments about the human papillomavirus (or HPV) vaccine that she made during the recent campaign debates. My friend thought it would make good fodder for a column, and knew Id be interested in the subject.
I was a little hesitant to write about it in this forum. Heck, its still early in our relationship and youre just getting to know bits and pieces about where I stand on certain issues and what my life philosophies are. And isnt this issue really more of a national one, since its taking place on the presidential campaign stages rather than right here in Fairfield County?
But then I remembered: We have children here in Fairfield County too.
Because, truly, whats at the heart of the brouhaha, and whats getting forgotten in favor of presidential politics and soundbites, are children.
Backtracking a little to explain, Rep. Bachmann has gone on the attack against Texas governor Rick Perry for the 2007 move he made in his state issuing an executive order mandating sixth-grade girls receive a vaccine against HPV. Assuming her intent was to characterize Perrys action as creating legislation without approval from the states legislative body, Bachmann fired off this soundbite during the debate:
To have innocent little 12 year old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong.
After the debate was concluded, she also asserted that HPV vaccines cause mental retardation.
I think you and I are going to get to know one another much faster than I first thought.
Political affiliations aside, whats most concerning to me is how science and healthspecifically the health of female childrenis now so politicized. Someone has taken a medical issue thats backed by scientific research and fact, and hijacked it for the purpose of political attack, spin and polling points.
What are the medical facts? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer and genital warts, in addition to being linked to other kinds of cancers and diseases. While there are multiple strains of HPV, and not all of them directly cause cancer, cervical cancer is still the second leading cancer-killer of women worldwide.
HPV is also the most common sexually transmitted disease today.
A-ha! Is that what makes this issue hot andpardon the media parlance punsexy? Because somehow when the topic of innocent little 12 year old girls gets mixed up with protecting them from a virus that gets transmitted through sexual contact, it suddenly gets to be co-opted by politicians on the basis of protecting moral valuesand it gets them airtime.
In full disclosure, I grew up in a household that was comfortable talking about science, medicine and fact. My dad is an OBGYN, so we werent afraid of using correct anatomical terminology or talking about human sexuality. Its formed the basis for the way I approach issues like this one.
The science shows that in order for this vaccine to work it needs to be administered before a person becomes sexually active. According to a statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics following the media uproar after Bachmanns comments, they recommend that girls receive [the] HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. Thats because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because its important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity.
That recommendation was echoed by the CDC and American Academy of Family Physicians.
Please note, it was me who italicized the statements words well before to emphasize that science isnt encouraging little girls to start being sexually active earlier. Knowing thats been the objection for some opposed to this vaccine, I wanted to make the demarcation between science and morality even clearer.
Let's continue with the facts, especially with regard to Bachmann's baseless assertion about the effects of giving the vaccine, and add what the AAP had to say:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record."
Legislation concerning vaccines and immunizations is written at the state level. Currently there are no laws on Connecticut books about anything having to do with HPVat all. Shortly after it was recommended at the federal level in 2006 that girls aged 11 and 12 receive routine vaccinations, several statesincluding Connecticutbegan debate on it. Nothing has passed our legislatures, however, as of 2007, the last year anything on HPV was brought up for discussion. (The CT Department of Health does have a fact sheet on HPV.)
Health and vaccine policy does get set by government, especially when it protects the lives of the public against epidemicsthink chicken pox, measles, and many others. Theres usually nothing compulsory and parents have the right to make an ultimate choice to opt out, as was the case in Texas (although Gov. Perrys executive order was ultimately overturned by his legislature).
It doesnt need to be an issue that gets divvied up based on political party. Just look at Virginia, where a state mandate for the HPV vaccine was passed with the support of politicians in both parties. Chris Stolle, a Republican state delegate there told the Huffington Post, "I'm a conservative Republican and I certainly do believe in limited government and limited interference of government into our lives. As we look at the function of government, I would put number one as being to protect its citizens. I think that a vaccination program for a disease that's epidemic falls very clearly within the realms of a small limited government."
What is unfortunately lost in this debate is the opportunity for the politicians to use science to enlighten and protect. The resulting costs from such a fatal diseaseimpacting families, hospitals, insurers, and societyis a potentially too high a price to pay.
Instead, code words and push-button fear messages get bandied about, furthering the campaign at the expense of some of our youngest citizens, playing political roulette with our daughters lives.
‘After the debate was concluded, she also asserted that HPV vaccines cause mental retardation.’
I read to that point. As far as I know that was an outright lie. So I read no more.
“innocent little girls” can also mean little girls who are not sexually active - this vaccination is after all for a sexually transmitted disease.
Now I will agree just because someone believe such and such caused something it shouldn’t be repeated as likely fact. Especially from a person who wants to hold high office. Honest investigation should prevail.
It isn't a lie:
"Appearing on Fox News after the debate, Bachmann recounted a conversation with a woman in the audience. Theres a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine, Bachmann said. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences."
She said a woman told her that their daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. Are saying there was no woman who told her that?
That is essentially the same thing as Bush saying the British told him Saddam was seeking yellow cake from Niger and then everyone calling Bush a liar... Never mind that they did tell him that and said as much...
Sorry, stick a “you” between “Are” and “saying ...”
This author hit it out of the park. Her rational, factual and reasonable take on the subject should totally end this discussion as a campaign issue in my opinion. I wish we could get back to America’s number one issue: jobs and the economy.
I'm saying any candidate who quotes some unnamed person, making unverifiable claims, isn't showing a whole lot of good judgement. I'm sure nutjobs say all kinds of things to her on the campaign trail.
“I’m saying any candidate who quotes some unnamed person, making unverifiable claims, isn’t showing a whole lot of good judgement. I’m sure nutjobs say all kinds of things to her on the campaign trail.”
I don’t have a problem with that statement. I agree.
But you called her a liar. That is something all together different.
Sorry, correction to my previous response to you...
You said what the author of this article said was true - that Bachmann said it caused mental retardation - which is not what she said. I called what the author said a lie and you say its not.
A rare but documented side effect is brain damage. A layperson might call the results mental retardation.
Everyone seems to be missing Mrs. Bachmann’s larger point is that there’s no compelling reason for government to put its weight behind this vaccine, which is intended to guard against the consequences of consensual sexual behavior (rapes aside) even if it’s “for the chillun.” Not even to get it on an insured list, because that merely socialistically increases everybody’s premium including those who would never touch this vaccine. Mrs. Bachmann is on the side of choosing freedom. It would be better to outright subsidize the poor who wanted Gardasil, than the legal loop-the-loop proposed by Perry.
I didn't call her anything. You said this: "I read to that point. As far as I know that was an outright lie." Which implied to me that the event never happened; so I provided a quote showing it did. You weren't specific as to what the author was supposedly lying about.
DB, you get the award for the most use of the word “said” in the shortest post.
July 2011 -- A vaccine may shield boys too
BACHMANN: Well, of course, I don't know the thoughts and the intents of the governor's heart. I have no idea what they are, nor would I speculate." SOURCE
I should have gone to bed hours ago... I mangled a number of posts tonight...
....In summary, Gardasil has one of the most favorable risk-benefit ratios of any pharmaceutical.
Having spent 15 years at the FDA and having seen regulation the good, the bad and the ugly up close, I am as opposed to anyone (except perhaps Ron Paul) to non-essential government intrusion into our lives. But some interventions are good. Among those I would include vaccination against childhood diseases and compulsory use of seat belts and motorcycle helmets.
I am discouraged by politicians who not only dont know much about science, technology, or medicine (which is perhaps understandable) but also dont know what they dont know (which is unacceptable).
Heres my advice to the presidential hopefuls: If youre not sure of the facts, keep quiet. Henry I. Miller, M.D., is Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy & Public Policy Hoover Institution.]
The American Academy of Pediatrics also issued a pointed rebuttal to Bachmann's comments, without mentioning her name:
The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. Thats because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because its important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity. In the U.S., about 6 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer. Source
Opposing HPV Vaccine "Unethical" - M.D. Anderson Cancer Center President "............ Dr. Ronald DePinho, the new president of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, says the vaccine is not just sound but "one of the great scientific advances in the history of medicine."......
.The Gardasil vaccine was recommended the FDAs vaccine approval committee, more than 6 months before Governor Perrys Executive Order. All girls who qualified for the Federal Vaccines for Children program were eligible to receive the vaccine free of charge: Medicaid, CHIPs, and uninsured or those with insurance that wont pay for vaccines. The Texas Legislature had previously delegated unconditional authority to mandate new vaccines to the Department of State Health Services, which is under Governor Perry and the Executive Branch. Source
"The Governors Executive Order (RP 65) that caused all the controversy also ordered the director of DSHS to make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccines. The Legislature had changed the law from opt in to a requirement to opt out once for all the school years. Next, they changed to a two year limit on the opt out, and then in 2005, the Legislature restricted the period to one year and required a new State form bearing a seal. Parents had to go to Austin or start early in the summer. There were bureaucrats who maintained that the only way to get the form with the seal was to go to Austin, find the right office and make the request in person. Perry used his EO to tell the Director of DSHS to make the request (and the seal) available on-line, making it easier to opt out. Source
Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann Minneapolis Convention Center April 7, 2010
Virtually nobody’s talking about opposing Gardasil per se, even though it may add to “moral risk” as adolescent children become aware of its purpose. Certainly not Mrs. Bachmann.
A lot of people take great umbrage at putting the government’s weight behind it.
But smoking gets outlawed without blinking...right??