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??
Gardasil has been banned in many countries overseas, including India and Spain. But not here, not in the good ‘ol capitalistic “pay and play” government of the United States!!!!!
(just prior to Greta's interview with Michele Bachmann on HPV vaccine and crony capitalism).
“Banned”? Do you have a link for that comment?
"Her father is an old country doctor," Perry said, "and she sees the demise of really quality healthcare and being able to take care of people like they need to be taken care of in this country and the innovations that have occurred in medicine."
Anita Thigpen Perry, 59, has a bachelor's degree in nursing from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University) and a master's degree in nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Texas Tech University's School of Nursing was renamed in her honor in 2008.
She worked as a nurse for 17 years in numerous settings, including surgery, pediatrics, intensive care administration and teaching. That experience adds credibility to her criticism of the federal healthcare law, a welcome asset for Perry as he struggles to explain why more than a quarter of Texans don't have health insurance - the highest rate in the nation.
Anita Perrys childhood was spent making house calls with her dad, Texas Tech University Chancellor Kent Hance told The Hill. Healthcare is a big issue to her and her dad being a doctor a country doctor she certainly has a lot of opinions that were formed even at an early age over healthcare. [end excerpt]
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once a fan and donor to bachmann,
now she’s irritating me.
You only need to use your search engine to find the Times of India and other news sources reporting that in April 2010 after four deaths occurred in girls who had been vaccinated that use of Gardasil was suspended and the government banned it. Ditto Spain. Other countries, too, where Big Pharma doesn’t rule what happens in health care.
Yes it’s a LIE.
But what is even more troubling is that Bachmann would go to the national media with the lie and try to present it as fact. she didn’t get the woman’s name. No one can seem to id her. No witness to the remark has come forward.
Is that the kind of Prez you want, someone that doesn’t need facts or truth. Just whatever “someone” tells her on the rope line. Heaven help us if she gets in office.
So, you made the comment, but you can’t back it up. Gotcha.
She said a woman told her that their daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. Are you saying there was no woman who told her that?"I read to that point. As far as I know that was an outright lie."It isn't a lie:5 posted on 09/17/2011 3:50:19 AM PDT by Flag_This"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 . . .' "
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 . . .
Up to that point, you are absolutely correct. But then she went further,"There are very dangerous consequences.'
At that point, Bachmann crossed a line from strict reporting of a statement she had heard, and went into her own editorializing.
When she concludes from the anecdote that the vaccine in fact is dangerous, she is going into the realm of scientific probabilities, and she is responsible for her statement. Anyone who thinks that the belief in a causal relation between the vaccine and those "serious consequences" is a typical bunch of pseudoscientific twaddle (of the sort which journalism would love in any other context) will draw unfavorable conclusions about Ms Bachmann's judgement.
Hannity has had Michele on and asked her about this and he looked disappointed too in her lack of response for facts. Jay Leno asked her the same question last night. People are seeing that this is so untrue what she is saying and questioning it and getting none answers back.
Oh, I certainly can back it up but am not going to do research for you! These issues are very well known, even if you seem unaware. If you love Perry as a candidate, you ought to drop the Gardasil discussion. Merck was hoping to make up its lost Vioxx profits on this shot, and it hasn’t happened, so you — and Perry — really don’t have a dog in the fight, really.
Did you ever think that maybe this woman didn’t want the media attention? I sure wouldn’t with all you people waiting in the wings to go after her.
I disgusted with the way people around here are treating Ms. Bachmann after all she’s done for the party just because they have a new shiny toy in Rick Perry.
Oh, I understand. You say whatever you choose, but decline to offer evidence that what you is is actually true. It’s up to everyone else to prove what you say is not true.
And don’t bother to tell me what I should and should not discuss. Unless, of course, you’re Barack Obama’s Internet censor.
OOOOh, Clara Lou, how DID you discover my role as Barack Obama’s Internet Censor? You are so smart!
You make no sense at all. No one forced Bachmann to say what she did. No one. There is absolutely no proof of this “ woman” that supposedly talked to Michele. And as a Lawyer Michele knows proof is everything for backing up things like this especially. Michele could stop any time she likes in repeating the lie she is telling and she has not so far. I feel sorry for Bachmann that she has to stoop this low to try to win which she will not. She could have done it on all the great things she has done. But she took the lowest road of all.....lies.
Amen. Good thing no one told her Martians were about to land. "But someone just TOLD me!"
There is a DEFINITE compelling state interest in vaccinations to stop widespread disease REGARDLESS of how it is spread.
Cervical cancer is a really horrendous form of cancer—and can be greatly reduced or possibly eliminated by this vaccine. It’s in the interest of everyone that the next generation be healthy—even the 55% who sin sexually in High School. The vaccine has no scientifically provable harm to the sexually pure....so I really do not understand what the fuss is about.
This is a medical and social issue, NOT political....unless of course you’re a wing-nut who opposes mandating childhood vaccinations.
Like the plague of AIDS (the US is the only place where it’s spread more by sodomy than other sexual behaviors) its transmission is almost always tied to behavior. I am an old fashioned right-hand-threaded wing nut who believes the dignity of humans to choose or refuse a medication that DOES have documented side effects (however rare) rises above that of dogs or cats.
I know its tied to behavior, like AIDS except HPV much more common and widespread.
I’ve done a graduate course on medical ethics, from an evangelical Christian perspective. Christian medical ethics—based in, very seriously the Hippocratic Oath (yep, the “Do no harm” one that also forbids abortion...), has always made NO distinction in treatment between self inflicted disease and innocent victim disease—as everyone is a sinner and sickness itself results from a fallen world.
Therefore it IS very ethical, and right, to spend money on AIDS research even though—in the USA 95%+ of the victim get it from illicit and usually perverted sex, or illegal drug use. The remaining 5% get it from contact with non-innocent victims. At the same time—is it right—with limited resources to spend money on AIDS research that takes away money from Heart Disease, which affects a LOT more people—and is not related to unethical behavior? No. All this is a matter of judgement though.
As to treatment—everyone should be treated alike, without worrying about how they got a disease. This is how Hippocratic Oath/Christian principles apply to individual doctors treating anyone.
Back to the HPV vaccine—it doesn’t hurt the moral people, and greatly helps the less than moral people (which really...is everyone, speaking from a biblical perspective)—and can give protection from innocent forms of transmission (as rare as those might be...)too, so WHY OPPOSE IT, unless for unscientific, ignorant, “vaccines are an evil plot” reasons?
Your winding up with a strawman after a bunch of liberal “logic” says all that needs to be said.