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The HPV Vaccine March 6, 2007

Posted by kelly in bodies, general considerations, in the news, news stories.
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Today’s New York Times has an article on the HPV vaccine that can be found here. While I’m sure many of you have heard about the debate surrounding it, for those of you who don’t here’s the gist of it: the vaccine is proven to protect women from the types of HPV that make up roughly 70% of HPV-related cervical cancer cases. HPV is more common in men than women, and is most often spread to women from men. Cervical cancer accounts for 240,000 deaths a year. So, what’s the problem? Some organizations are opposed to the vaccine because they believe it encourages promiscuity and premarital sex amongst females. An article in TIME says, “The New Scientist in Britain quoted the Family Research Council’s Bridget Maher warning that ‘giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.” I find this just a little bit outrageous. Since when did other people’s ideologies take precedent over my own health? Would we really be having this same argument if this was a vaccine to prevent cancer in men? How is it that people still feel that they have a right to rule over women’s bodies? The idea that the vaccine would give women a “license” to engage in premarital sex suggests that we have no agency of our own, we need permission to have sex. It is as though these people are in favor of STDs as a way of curbing women’s sexuality. Furthermore, these organizations are willing to deny women a vaccine against CANCER simply in order to maintain the old-fashioned ideals of chastity, virginity, and repression.

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Comments»

1. robynbahr - March 6, 2007

I completely agree with you on this – how outrageous! Things like this make my blood boil!

2. Gina - March 6, 2007

There definitely would not be any argument against a vaccine preventing cancer in men because men do not have to be weighed down by society’s standards of “good.” I’m completely disgusted that anyone would even think to argue against a vaccine because it might make it easier for women to have premarital sex! Putting old values against serious health concerns is rediculous.

3. mattwm - March 7, 2007

I’ll venture to say that I’m concerned about the vaccine because I read a Merck pamphlet recommending their vaccine for girls as young as nine while no long term study has been done. I’m also turned off by how heavily it was marketed, right out the gate. . .

As to the comment by Maher– I’m sure she’s not at all in the mainstream. The Family Research Council, if the article didn’t say, is a “Christian organization promoting the traditional family unit and the Judeo-Christian value system upon which it is built” (from its website).I consider myself a Christian, and I learned long ago not to get too angry at what “Christian” conservatives have to say. Um, not to be too much of a jerk. Still, do you guys think “old values” should go right out the window in the modern day and age? When they conflict with serious helath concerns, sure, and I guess its a really undeveloped and vague question. . . Maybe I’ll do a post on it later.

4. robynbahr - March 7, 2007

I don’t think “old values” should go right now the window. I just don’t see how “old values” have anything to do with this vaccine. I wouldn’t have even made the connection between sex and the vaccine if I hadn’t been aware of the controversy. I think it’s a stretch to assume women will suddenly become promiscuous if able to take the vaccine, I think it’s a stretch to even relate sexual behavior to the vaccine, since to me it seems to be primarily focused on preventing cancer and not giving women license to screw around. And even if it DOES give them license, what it is someone’s business to stand in their way? I may not agree with her actions, but I have no right to prevent a woman from doing what she wants with whom she wants, especially if it’s a controlling a woman’s right to preserve her own health.

5. kelly - March 7, 2007

I understand serious concerns about possible side effects of the vaccine, but none of these organizations are offering that as their reasoning. As to the question of old values going out the window, like Robyn, I think that has no place in this discussion. How can one assume that a woman would automatically become promiscuous because of the availability of this vaccine? Furthermore, who is anyone to say that is a reason a woman should not be allowed the vaccine? The linking of the vaccine to “old values going out the window” is indicative only of extreme and unreasonable assumptions that seem to go along with the ideas of these conservatives.

6. mattwm - March 7, 2007

Umm I was asking outside of the context of health matters and a woman’s body; I can’t imagine we’d have diverse viewpoints among this group. Myself inculded, in case you misunderstand me further.

Sorry my question was too vague, and stupid I guess; I myself see no contradiction between even a strictish reading of the Bible and feminism. Nevermiiiiindddd.

It was more an unclear question from the “having it all,” argument, I suppose– is there necessarily a dichotomy between being a mother, staying at home, etc. and having a career, having premarital sex, and so on, and if there is, where do you guys stand on it. But forget it, sorry.

Thanks for your thoughts though.


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