HPV revisted

Milehimama has a post on the HPV vaccine. I am not linking to her, because she is aware of and is avoiding attention given to bloggers who write about this controversial vaccine. She’s right to do so. My post from early last month gets lots of attention via Google searches, and I know that Catholic Mom, who has written more than once about the vaccine, has noticed the traffic too. I’ve already had one troll, but of course now that comments are off, there have been no others.

I find it interesting to note that Merck actually has hound dogs out searching for true public opinion on the matter. Have they realized that twisted questions posed by automatons to the small percentage of Americans who don’t screen their incoming calls with CallerID do not generate accurate poll results (the media and Zogby don’t seem to understand this)? I also find it interesting that pediatricians and family practitioners seem horribly unaware of the average (educated) mother’s concern over all vaccines. {I use “educated” as a qualifier only because I know there are plenty of moms for whom the thought of questioning a doctor would never occur, or who do not run in circles where one vigilante mom feels the need to educate all the other moms at the playgroup, or who themselves do not scour every vaccine’s side-effects listing praying that these terrible things don’t happen to their kid. Educated means “educated about vaccines” not “having a PhD.”} Although it is possible to find pediatricians who favor delaying or avoiding vaccines or who do not immediately pooh-pooh parental concerns about any potential link between the MMR vaccine and autism in boys, most are pro-vaccine having studied or lived through life without them.

Merck seems to be nicely drawing the battle lines, and those of us opposing a mandate are labeled as right-wing fanatics who want to condemn young women to death by cancer as punishment for their past sins. When you’re a Catholic homeschooler, you get labeled as a religious wacko and no amount of reason will convince an irreligious wacko that you could possibly have legitimate non-religious arguments against something.

I have no “Catholic” reasons to avoid this vaccine for my daughter. It was not immorally manufactured, unlike the MMR vaccine (also by Merck) which was made using tissue from aborted fetuses. Although it is transmitted via sexual contact, sex (hold on, everyone, big shocker here) is not necessarily sinful. There are plenty of folks in this world who routinely have licit intercourse, and in fact, Catholicism delightfully encourages it! My daughters could remain virgins, grow up, get married to wonderful men who might happen to have had less than pure pasts and unknowingly might have contract HPV and innocently might pass it on to them. There was no sin committed here, assuming that the son-in-law was unaware of the HPV and that it was contracted prior to the marriage. And if he contracted it after the marriage, the sin is his, not my daughter’s.

I do not (yet) argue that this vaccine be banned. Although I am skeptical of its efficacy and its safety and am happy to have years before I would even be able to give it to my daughters, I do not feel the need to prevent other mothers from vaccinating their daughters. I have no desire for any woman to suffer; I do not feel that misery here on earth is God’s righteous punishment (see Book of Job); I do not necessarily think that girls with this vaccine will feel even more liberated to fall into bed with any guy at any whim (no, our society does more than enough to encourage that by disassociating sex from marriage and telling virgins that they are “abnormal”). As time goes on, I will perhaps become convinced that this vaccine is too risky, health-wise, to girls and women, but for now I fully support parents’ informed decisions to vaccinate their daughters.

However, I do feel it is immoral for governments to override parental rights without due process. This is not Catholic morality, this is the same generic Christian morality upon which our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and founding principles rest. Now I realize that it is in vogue to separate God completely from the realm of government. Giving credit where it is due, the following concept was articulated to me by my father-in-law years ago: if we do not set above the government some Higher Power, then our highest authority is our government. This is a thought that terrifies every American. Even the atheists shudder at the thought that our imperfect system is IT for determining right and wrong. This is why those who want to throw out God would substitute some international authority over our national government, as if that that would be better. Government is, at its roots, human, and humans are, at their roots, flawed. Putting all of one’s faith in a flawed system is a very bad thing (see histories of communism and national socialism for more on this topic). It is much better to set above us a Supreme Authority, even a generic one, as long as IT is Perfect.

Our founding principles demand a government of, by and for the people. They hold that government is accountable to the people and should serve the people and not itself. By assuming responsibility for issues that are not of public concern, the government removes personal autonomy and dictates policies that may not be in the best interest of the people. There are bad parents, and there are laws to force bad parents to make good decisions, and there is a minimally effective system to remove children from the care of routinely bad parents. But it is one thing to make it illegal to drive with a child on your lap (clearly dangerous, life-threatening behavior), and another to mandate a vaccine that may or may not be effective for a disease that is not transmitted via casual contact, and even quite another to mandate a vaccine that is not yet proven effective and safe.

In the case of Rick Perry’s decision to unilaterally mandate the vaccine for all school girls, we do not have a decision made even remotely “by” the people (he acted alone), and it is dubious that it is “for” the people since it is of questionable good and since he has received political funding from Merck (see quote in my previous post, the link has since expired). One can not serve both the people and the pocketbook.

In the case of state legislatures debating a mandate, at least there is a nominal idea that a decision would be “by” the people, since the legislature is an elected body (not just one elected official like a governor). But there continues to be doubt about politician’s motives when Merck donates money to them, and, despite Merck’s PR campaign to the contrary, this is not a public health issue. One can not get HPV by sitting in a classroom full of infected teens. Governments must tread lightly when it comes to laws that usurp power from the people. Even if this vaccine were completely safe and 100% effective (it is not), without a clear risk to public health, government does not have the moral authority to decide for all parents that their children must be vaccinated.

In conclusion, I really must quote Merck’s prescribing information for Gardasil (thanks to Milehimama for the link):

Only a doctor or healthcare professional can decide if GARDASIL is right for you or your daughter.

Yes, Merck, that’s right. Not Rick Perry. Not the state legislature. Not you. Let me talk my MY doctor about MY daughter.

For more on the HPV controversy, the questionable efficacy and safety, and financial shenanigans between Merck and politicians, visit the Overturn RP65 blog.

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What’s wrong with incest?

I just don’t know where to go with this…

German Siblings Challenge Incest Ban

Leaders of Germany’s Green Party have voiced their support for the Stubings’ cause. “We must abolish a law that originated last century and today is useless,” said party spokesman Jerzy Montag. Critics of the laws against incest say that they were developed as a product of Hitler’s theories on racial purity.

A lawyer for the couple said that their relationship should be preserved as a matter of “sexual self-determination.” He pointed out that neighboring Belgium, Holland, and France do not make incest a criminal offense.

Gee, I really thought laws against incest pre-dated Hitler by at least a few years – give or take 5 or 6 millenium. I vaguely remember reading something about it in the Old Testament…could be wrong…and really, if Belgium, Holland and France think it’s okay, why on earth should we argue? And another thing: they have four kids already! They are just doing their part to raise the declining birth rate! They’re actually saving Germany! Ja wohl!