Friday, June 30, 2006

Irresponsible Women's Forum

Charlotte Allen of the "Independent Women's Forum" (what an adorable name for an anti-feminist organization!) is up in arms at the recent recommendation that girls be vaccinated against some of the cancer-causing strains of HPV. From her post:

Now, here’s the latest from an immunization panel affiliated with the National Centers for Disease Control: force every single little girl, female teenager, and young woman in the country to be vaccinated against cervical cancer--actually against sexually transmitted disease that can cause cancer.

Here’s the New York Times report:

"The vote all but commits the federal government to spend as much as $2 billion alone on a program to buy the vaccine for the nation’s poorest girls from 11 to 18.

"The vaccine, Gardasil, protects against cancer and genital warts by preventing infection from four strains of the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease, according to federal health officials. The virus is also a cause of other cancers in women."

If you think 11 sounds young for sex, how about age 9--the recommended age in some cases?


"Another challenge is Gardasil’s price. At $360 for the three-shot regimen, it is among the most expensive vaccines ever. Because cervical cancer is mostly a disease of poverty, those in most need of the vaccine will be the least able to afford it. State vaccination programs, already under financial strain, may refuse to provide it."

I hope they do refuse. How about telling young teen-agers instead that sexual promiscuity is not only a bad idea but actually dangerous to their health?

I know this isn't the first time someone from the IWF has said something dumb and manipulative, but I lose my ability to ignore it from time to time. First of all, I would like someone from Focus on the Family, the Independent Women's Forum or assorted other groups that have opposed to the widespread use of this vaccine to please point out a single instance in which anyone promoting this vaccine has said - or even hinted - that 9- and 11-year-olds ought to be having sex. The point of vaccinating young girls is that they have (hopefully) not had an opportunity to contract HPV, and can therefore build an immunity to the virus before they come into contact with it. Also, I think that the CDC has already covered the dangers of "sexual promiscuity." Let's also not forget that the most chaste of us can be raped or cheated on, and exposed to HPV in that matter. A small number of sexual partners reduces the risk of contracting STDs - it doesn't eliminate it.

I don't doubt for a second that Ms. Allen knows all of this, but she is still willing to misrepresent the CDC and put women's (and men's) lives on the line just for the sake of demonstrating her opposition to premarital sex. It's not amusing, and until the IWF and their ilk are prepared to present any evidence that the HPV vaccine will not help women, they are causing men and women to contract cancer. It's that simple.

(Thanks to Feministing for the link.)

UPDATE: zuzu is also not amused.
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