Friday, June 09, 2006

More Moral Bankruptcy from the Religious Right

DEATHS from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer - but there are signs that opposition to the vaccines might lead to many preventable deaths.

The trouble is that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. So to prevent infection, girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually active, which could be a problem in many countries.

In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus. (New Scientist, via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.)

When I read something like "girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually active, which could be a problem in many countries," I think of countries like Saudi Arabia or the Sudan, not the freaking U.S. What a disgrace.


Sadie Lou said...

I'm with you. This isn't about what's best for everyone, this smacks of some bizarre religious agenda. It's like some Christians can't think outside of the box. It's just plain ignorant.

smoo said...

I don't know the particulars concerning this vaccine so I will not address it specifically. And since it appears it is given later in the childs development, the following comment will not be directly related.

There are reasons to be concerned about the overuse of vaccines. Yes, there are some that are essential ones given to BABIES and others that are unnecessary. A baby is not at risk for Hepatitis yet they are given the vaccine. A vaccine against chicken pox is the rule but there are things not revealed to parents until...

...All of my children received the chicken pox vaccine as babies. Yet 2 still got a mild case later. Ok, nothing is perfect. Well, Doc said its only 70% effective and the immunity granted is not lifelong like someone who actually had a case of the pox. In fact, he said the immunity decreases sometime in the teens or perhaps later. So now we saved the children from a childhood mild illness but put them at risk for a more severe form later!

I believe the jury is out on the rise in Autism with increase in a certain vaccine use (forgot which one but it was some combo vaccine). When the UK adopted use of the vaccine there was a rise in autism there as well.

Lets talk about babies. We freak out if we give them the wrong food too early, preferring to use breast milk or other milk form until at least 6 months. We don't want to expose their underdeveloped system to foreign proteins. Yet what do you think we are exposing newborns to with all these vaccines (again, I don't object to the critical ones. Others should be reserved for later in their development). But from the fear of losing herd immunity, we put babies at risk for side effects or worse.

Vaccines are a lifesaver but appropriate use and time of administration are essential.

smoo said...

Around 8/9/2005 I found this but I didn't copy the origin. sorry....

On Sunday morning's Meet the Press, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, debated New York Times reporter and author David Kirby about the strength of the science linking the current epidemic of neurological disorders among American children to the mercury-based vaccine preservative Thimerosal. The Institute of Medicine as well as the Centers for Disease Control and the
If Dr. Fineberg genuinely wants to test his assertions about Thimerosal safety with epidemiological data, he should commission a study comparing American children who were exposed to vaccines to the Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists or others, who, for religious reasons, did not receive Thimerosal-laced vaccines.
A recent survey by United Press found that autism is virtually unknown among Pennsylvania's large Amish populations -- a strong indication that vaccines are indeed a principal culprit of the epidemic. Despite the repeated urgings of independent scientists and the families of autistic children, the federal agencies involved have refused to commission such a study and have closed federal vaccine files in order to derail the creation of those studies by outside scientists.

swurgle said...

My only hope is that this (and other recent moves) backfire for the conservatives.

Let them made a big deal about opposing a vaccination that can save millions of lives.

Let them waste a week anguishing over the crisis of flag burning.

Let them become increasingly outspoken in their opposition to all forms of birth control even for married couples.

What's next? Maybe mandatory head scarves for women? How about public executions on pay-per-view TV?

Every day this country moves one step closer to "A Handmaid's Tale" or "1984"

Jewish Atheist said...


I'm with you.

Yay! That doesn't happen often. :-)


Certainly if there are legitimate medical concerns, that could be a reason to oppose vaccinations. However, that's not with this post is about. This post is about people who are more worried about a wildly implausible rise in premarital sex than millions of deaths. (BTW, the Amish's entire lifestyle is different -- it would be pretty hard to narrow the cause of a lower incidence of autism, if it exists, to just lack of vaccination. I tend to be skeptical of the supposed autism-vaccination link because it's been so tested already and I know that there are real downsides (i.e. mass illness and death) to not vaccinating.)


My only hope is that this (and other recent moves) backfire for the conservatives.

I think it is. People are starting to wake up to the fact that the Republican party no longer stands for the things they once believed in. Instead, it's become a bizarre medley of lobbyists, the Christian Right, and neocons. Can you imagine a Republican today founding the Environmental Protection Agency (as Nixon did) or prudently deciding to raise taxes when needed (as GHWBush did) or arguing against "nation building" (as this Bush (!) did during the 2000 campaign?) There is zero integrity left in the Republican party. Even McCain went back on his word to cozy up with the Falwell loonies.

Every day this country moves one step closer to "A Handmaid's Tale" or "1984"

Ain't that the truth.

DAG said...

They can oppose it all they want..they can advise people not to take it. They can refuse as practitioners to administer it, BUT, they really can't make it illegal in the US.

I wonder if the argument in 3rd world countries may focus on the devestating impacts of premarital sex (on pop esplosion, HIV) and this may be see by some as a way to encourage TRULY destructive behavior

DAG said...

GHWB was prudent to raise taxes? He lost the lection because of it, and it didnt help the economy a stitch.

Laura said...

This is simple harm-reduction at it's core. Like any abstinence campaign (sex, drugs, etc) you MUST supplement the curriculum with critical information to protect those people who might decide to try something for themselves. Teaching kids that condoms don't work, or that you can catch AIDS from tears is lunacy. You'd be sure to see no opposition to a vaccine that prevented testicular cancer that originated with an STD infection. I know such a thing doesn't really exist, but in the hypothetical...

What's worse? Having a daughter develop a potentially deadly disease or having a daughter who's not a virgin when/if she gets married?

asher said...

To JA and Swurgle,

This country has already moved to a place very close to my favorite movie "Network"

Juggling Mother said...

On the MMR & autism thing (wow I thought this one had been laid to rest by now!) there have been over 30 studies into the supposed link, all of which have found no evidence that vaccinated children have a higher risk of developing autism than non-vaccinated children. Of the three scientists who wrote the original paper in The Lancet, suggesting research needed to be carried out, two have publically stated theey are happy there is absolutely no evidence of a link, and the third has said that further research appears to show that his original conclusions (based on 16 autistic children) was ill-judged.

since they made the general comment that perhaps a link should be researched, several hundred children have died uneccessarily, several thousend have become permently disabled, and many tens of thousends of parents have wasted money on untested single vaccines, or watched their children suffere needlessly through major illnesses.

Vaccines are vital not only for the safety of the child, but for the safety of society as a whole (ask your parents about what happened when a polio epidemic started in their locality when they were kids), and for the people who cannot have vaccines for proper medical reasons.

Any illness that can lead to death or permenant impairment and has a vaccine should be mandatory IMO, unless you come up with a damn good reason why you should be excused.

We insist that pets are vaccinated before they are allowed out into society, but our kids are obviously less important.

BTW the chicken pox vaccine isn't licenced in the UK - we have much more stringent rules about medical stuff than the US, but it is likely that all girls will be given the vaccine at school, just as they were given the rubella vaccine (now part of the MMR) unless they request to be exempted. I'm glad I live in the UK!

Half Sigma said...

The actions of the religious people are actually logical if you posit that they consider a life of sin to be worse than a virtuous but early death. The former soul will go to Hell but the latter reside eternally in the bliss of Heaven.

Thus the discouraging of sinful premarital sex is considered a higher priority than saving lives.

Juggling Mother said...

"they consider a life of sin to be worse than a virtuous but early death"

A succint explaination of why theists and atheists will always consider each other wrong.