Andy Kopsa

Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality

That pesky HPV vaccine

“I can see Norway from my house.”

As follow-up to her attack on Rick Perry for mandating all Texas girls aged 11 and 12 receive the  HPV vaccine in this week’s CNN/Tea Party debate, Michele Bachmann rattled off this interview gold during a morning round of talk:

On Tuesday morning, Bachmann doubled down, telling NBC’s Today Show about a conversation she’d had following the debate, with a Tampa woman. “She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter,” Bachmann said. “It can have very dangerous side effects.”

She said the same thing on Fox News: “There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences.” (Mother Jones)

One can be outraged at Perry’s decision if they like.  Invasion of privacy?  Big government sticking its nose where it shouldn’t be?  Rick’s huge payday from big pharma?  But – you are not allowed to be angered by the mandatory HPVing of Texas girls based on junk science.  The American Academy of Pediatrics went into damage control mode after ole you know who said you know what:

“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. That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s 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.”

Michele Bachmann is many things: a devoted wife (beard?), mother (how many kids?) and reliable harbinger of nonsensical horse-shit. In addition to these qualities, Bachmann possesses no regard what-so-ever for anything approaching the truth.  This is a quality she shares with the whole of GOPers and in particular the Christian right.

But, what is it about the HPV vaccine that makes the right wingery uncomfortable enough to lie about it over and over and over again? Because once you immunize girls against HPV you are giving them license to go out and sleep with everyone on the football team/planet of course!  Just ask tree stump Rick Santorum.

Last month I wrote a cover article on WAIT Training for Denver’s Westword magazine.  These following bits didn’t make it into the piece but is important – and very, very telling – about the way these organizations (and people like Bachmann, et.al) operate.

From the Front Porch blog in Colorado: Sex: Good or Bad, It’s Not Just for Marriage Anymore

According to a Greeley nurse (I’m not naming names and that doesn’t mean I’m relying on gossip; it just means I know when to keep my mouth shut to protect people), Shelly Donahue recently gave a presentation to a Greeley church in hopes of bringing her program to the youth group. Donahue is a national trainer for WAIT (Why Am I Tempted) Training, that disturbing abstinence-only-until-marriage program that tried to take over our schools’ healthy sexuality curriculum not long ago. If ever there was a program with an agenda, it’s WAIT. Its curriculum would be laughable if its developers weren’t serious. But seeing as how they are, the contents pass beyond laughable to dangerous. Beyond dangerous to deadly.

Anyway, Donahue reportedly told the congregation that the new HPV vaccine for girls will leave them sterile. The vaccine, Gardisal, helps protect females from four forms of HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to sterility (maybe Donahue was just confused between the vaccine and the disease?). In the eyes of WAIT, such a vaccine puts young people on the fast track to being sexually active, if not permiscuous. It encourages them to shed their morals for physical gratification. It is evil.

I addressed this issue with WAIT’s founder and President Joneen Mackenzie.  She refused repeatedly to answer my questions about the Donahue/HPV lie incident.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that Mrs. Donahue has no medical training.

One comment on “That pesky HPV vaccine

  1. Jessica
    September 14, 2011

    Your statement, “One can be outraged at Perry’s decision if they like. Invasion of privacy? Big government sticking its nose where it shouldn’t be? Rick’s huge payday from big pharma? But – you are not allowed to be angered by the mandatory HPVing of Texas girls based on junk science.” sums the situation up nicely. Really, she should pick a valid point to argue…but she’s instead chosen to pander to some of the religious right who aren’t capable of discerning fact from fiction.

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