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Cancer is a bad thing, right?

Jun
14
2006

I’m against cancer.
There. I said it.
I’m taking a stand against cancer. Call me a Godless radical, a left-wing bleeding heart, even — (shudder) — a Hollywood actor, but I think cancer is a bad thing. I think it should be stamped out.
I think – and here’s where I’m treading on dangerous ground – that if there were a vaccine that would prevent people from getting cancer and that vaccine can be produced without threat to any other life form, it should be used.
Honestly, I didn’t think it was necessary to take a stand against cancer, but apparently it is not the cut and dry issue I thought it was. And it’s only thanks to my good bud Jag, who I consider my personal health and science issue advisor, that I know there is an element in this country who apparently thinks that cancer is not so bad as Other Things.
I was naïve enough to think that everyone would be rejoicing when it was announced that a vaccine – Gardasil – has been found that prevents cervical and vaginal cancers. I figured this would be a uniting moment in medical history because it prevents something that people die from.
I know, I know. What was I thinking? Just at an uplifting positive moment, someone is bound to find a reason to be offended. In this case and, sadly, once again, it is the religious right.
What the issue boils down to is that the vaccine can only be given before there is any chance of infection by the HPV virus that causes cervical and vaginal cancers. That virus can only be contracted through intercourse, so the vaccine must be given before there is any chance of the patient being sexually active. If given after contracting the virus, the vaccine can be deadly.
FDA has approved the vaccine and it is currently in the hands of an advisory committee, specifically, a Centers for Disease Control advisory committee, wherein lies the rub. It seems the most effective way to distribute the vaccine is to make it one of the many mandatory vaccinations before a child in admitted to public school.
The typical conservative knee-jerk reaction is understandable in a sort of broad ideological way: requiring the vaccine is a violation of parental rights. However, no one is arguing over DTP or polio vaccines, also mandatory. You don’t want to vaccinate your child? Fine. Homeschool, send them to private school, but don’t prevent other children from being vaccinated.
And I know it couldn’t possibly be the threat of “mandatory” meaning having to fund the vaccinations for the needy. Right? Right?
What is it about the Gardasil vaccination that has the religious right working up to a hissy?
(Adopting a passive/aggressive Church Lady voice) Could it be. . . . . . . . SEX?


Ah, yes, sex. That Other Thing.
This from The Hill:

Other conservatives say abstinence is the most effective defense against HPV and worry that administering a mandatory HPV vaccine could give a false sense of security for teenagers engaging in premarital sex.
“If people begin to market the vaccine or tout the vaccine that this makes adolescent sex safer, then that would undermine the abstinence-only message,” said Reginald Finger, a member of the ACIP and a former medical adviser for the pro-abstinence Focus on the Family.


Aside from this obvious short-sighted statement in view of the dubious success of the abstinence-only message, the conservative religious right stance on this makes me wonder if cervical cancer patients are the new Hester Prynnes of their church group. Oh, I know, I know — the party line on this is “hate the sin, love the sinner,” a policy that has succeeded so well with the issue of homosexuality. But since the atmosphere among the conservatives seems to be that cervical cancer hints at pre-marital, or maybe even promiscuous, sex, how many women are going to be anxious to obtain a diagnosis in the face of their church’s typical “loving” attitude toward sinners?
I question what company in their right fiscal mind would market this as a vaccine making adolescent sex safer when they can market it as a vaccine that prevents cancer. I question a parent who would rather their child be susceptible to cancer should they stumble on the road to righteousness than run a minute risk that their child might engage in premarital sex because of the vaccine.
So here I am, Jeanne “Middle-Of-The-Road-Politics” Jackson, former homeschool mother, surprised to find herself sitting solidly on the left when it comes to this particular parental right.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 4:39 PM | Permalink

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