Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cervical Cancer is NOT a Family Value

Women who have sex should face deadly consequences, or at least, that's apparently the position of some republicans. So, now, we may have a cure for one of the primary causes of cervical cancer, HPV, but religious zealots who have found their way into the halls of power are "concerned" that the availability of the vaccine may encourage sexual promiscuity. This is, by the way, the same warped mentality behind attempts to limit access to birth control. I submit that their objections have nothing to do with curtailing male sexual behavior and everything to do with keeping women "in their place."

According to The Hill, Merck has developed a vaccine, Gardasil, that is 100% effective against common strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. Often, symptoms of HPV are silent, and even so, the virus can be transmitted. HPV is so common that some estimate that 50-75% of the sexually active population will be exposed to at least one strain of on the virus, and so common that a person can have few sexual partners and still contract the virus.

Yet, republicans like Dr. Reginald Finger (the former medical advisor to Focus on the Family) worry that if the FDA approves the vaccine, then the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices could issue guidelines that would undermine "the abstinence-only message." The ACIP has been considering this vaccine since 6/2005. I wonder how many women have become infected in that same time frame? I wonder if those "expressing concern" care? Democrats fear, and rightly so, that this vaccine is on the same bumpy road faced in trying to get emergency contraception approved as an over the counter drug. (Little tough to get "emergency" contraception when you have to first have a doctor's appointment and obtain a prescription.)

Women need to make their voices heard on this issue. The ACIP guidelines are important because they will be used by states to decide whether the vaccine will be among the services health insurance companies are mandated to cover. They are accepting comments until June 29th, and you can submit your written comments to:

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 CLifton Road, NE
MS E-05
Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Republicans may wish to consider getting control of their fringe elements that drive their agenda so far to the right most of us can't relate. Here's a news flash: women do vote, and while religious extremists are successful in getting some women to trumpet their cause, most women are offended by efforts to take away control of our own bodies. And, by the way, we know exactly what the game is really about. Whether it is through limiting access to contraception or, as in this case, making sure that if we choose to have sex we face potentially deadly consequences, be certain of one thing: this battle is not about morality: it's about POWER.

With attempts to further restrict abortion, efforts to restrict access to contraception and relaxation of insurance mandates, we have already seen this begin to play out in Georgia politics, and the time to stop it is now. When I read things like this I know why it is so critical that more democratic women find their way into elected office. In fact, how appropriate that we are having this discussion on the same day WIN List will announce our endorsed candidates. If you, like me, are tired of ploys for power that are wrapped in the flag and the Bible, then let's get behind these women who actually live their "family values."


Tina said...

I have placed this as an ACTION ALERT on my Grapevine blog..something I don't ordinarily do. Everyone needs to write the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Ataru Atlanta said...

My take is that the children of conservative parents should get cervical cancer; maybe then these fucking holier-than-thou swine would get the god damned clue. If this is what God wants, then fuck Him.

liberalandproud said...

Ok, Benson, that was more than a little snarky. We need this vaccine. The arguments presented by the far right are ridiculous, but comments like that make us sound ridiculous, too. Their tactics make us all pretty angry, but we don't need to debase ourselves with such severe language and hate in order to fight them.

Ataru Atlanta said...

Yeah, I should probably be cited for posting under the influence ;-)

Seriously, while I went overboard there, I have no qualms about hating these people, and to a certain extent it's disingenous to expect bland PC opinions from the blogosphere. Anyway, point taken...

Amy Morton said...

Thanks for the pulling it back on board, Benson. Here's a point I failed to make clear on this issue yesterday, and maybe I should put it up front, but, here goes. It is very important that this vaccine be one of the typical "required" vaccines children receive (like MMR and others.) As with diseases like mumps and measles, the risk is great, just quieter. Early and universal vaccination would help elimiate the risk from this virus. I know that required vaccines are a bit controversial, but just like we had little choice about getting our other shots, this one out to be in that cocktail.

liberalandproud said...

I couldn't agree more, Amy. The Right is trying to make this about sex. We know it's about saving lives.

BEZERKO said...

Hi Amy,

I think it's important to note that, though not totally necessary at birth - that is a good idea if it is possible(?) to administer the vaccine after birth, this vaccine has to be given to young girls before they become sexually active, and therein lies the (IRRATIONAL) rub. Somehow, and I'm speculating here because I haven't heard their arguments against it - and what possible rational grounds could the fundy community argue against this - administering the vaccine would be tacit approval of sexual activity for underaged girls. This is an irrational and unreasonable position, not to mention INSANE! Further proof that the Fundamentalist Christian community is out of control and lost all touch with and any concept of REALITY.

I'm glad you posted something about this, I clicked on the Hill article and the link was no good. Is this - http://thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/TheExecutive/121505_vaccine.html - the article?. There was a good article last year in an issue of American Prospect http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050530/pollitt Katha Pollitt points out Oklahoma's fundy nutcase Tom Coburn is in a difficult position on this, he has counseled for years that the HPV can be transmitted even with condom use, but if there's a vaccine to prevent the HPV, then this argument, on scientific grounds, is pointless.

Also, there was an article posted on Alternet - http://www.alternet.org/story/37485/ I haven't had the chance to read this one.

Button Gwinnett said...

Amy, I don't know if you've checked leftyblogs.com recently, but congrats on consistently being one of the most widely read bloggers in the Georgia lefty blogosphere!

Which makes you the perfect one to bring this important issue to light. You're right, conservatives do want to make this about sex. This might be your finest piece of work. Good call!!

Amy Morton said...

Bezerko: Thanks, I fixed the link, and think I that I should move your comment up front. Good info.

And, thanks, Button. Nice to hear positive feedback!

kris1996 said...

As a Christian, I am appalled that
people would rather have women denied the vacine to prevent cancer because it might encourage sex. This is ridiculous. I myself would have loved to have this vaccine, but it is too late for me. I never had intercourse with anyone but my husband. Imagine my shock when after a bad pap I was told I had HPV. I was never promiscuous, but I am paying for the mistakes my husband made during his wilder days. Now I am constantly forced to have pap tests and biopsies because every test I take comes with bad results and the fear it will turn into cervical cancer. It is my hope other women will be prevented from going through this ordeal.