The HPV Vaccine March 6, 2007Posted by kelly in bodies, general considerations, in the news, news stories.
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.