Friday, July 21, 2006

Top Priority: Intact Hymens
Second Priority: Life

Torpor Indy has a great post arguing that the Bush administration is hazardous to your health. It is a great compilation of some of the “values-based” health decisions the administration has recently made to the dismay of nearly all medical professionals and regular people.

One of his exhibits is that Bush has advocated against vaccinating girls against HPV (which affects 75% of the population) because it might encourage young girls to have (gasp) premarital sex.

Okay. Where to begin?

If you are vaccinated against malaria as a child, does that make you more likely to visit a 3rd-world country? If you receive a tetanus shot, do you suddenly develop a liking for stepping on rusty nails? With all the pressures and confusion and misinformation about sex that teen girls face, I don’t think that receiving a shot when they are 12 years old will be a leading factor in their sexual decision-making.

But, you know, it’s important that we send the right message. That we don’t care about the 4,000 women who die from cervical cancer per year. The most important thing is virginity virginity virginity. So you may die of cancer, but at least your daughter will have a hymen at your funeral. Because she didn’t get an HPV vaccination. Right.

Bill Gates recently gave $15.3 million to help develop an AIDS vaccination. In the fortunate event that one is successfully developed, does this values war prevent it from reaching the market? Or place severe restrictions on it? Do we worry that taking the vaccine will make people more likely to have promiscuous sex? Or to become (gasp) homosexual? Do we write conditions into our international AIDS relief policies preventing use of the vaccine (as we have done for use of condoms in Africa)?

If “values” stops us from distributing the cure to a horrible epidemic disease that kills 3.1 million people per year, it will be the greatest tragedy of our time. What you are witnessing right now, with the HPV debate, is the prologue to that very story.


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