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November 01, 2005

Response To Criticisms On Cervical Cancer Vaccine Post

First, I'm chided that no named "conservative groups" are quoted opposing the vaccine, and that I fell into a pile of liberal bullshit by buying into that.

Well, maybe. But the article does say:

Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.

It doesn't say they've decided to oppose it yet, but there are quotes from some who do. Did the article jump the gun in supposing that "conservative groups" would oppose this? Perhaps. But if individuals oppose it, certainly it won't be long before they become a "group." That's the way it works.

Next, on to the mandatory-immunization issue. I know a lot of people, including Michelle Malkin, are pretty skeptical about the need to immunize their kids, even against mumps and rubella and so forth. There are, yes, dangers associated with vaccines.

I'm going to take a pass on this entire argument, except to say that I don't buy that just because you're a parent you can necessarily do whatever you like with your kid. When I posted that article about the vegan husband and wife who nearly starved their child to death by feeding it nothing but nuts and fruit, no one chimed in to say, "Well, their kid. They had that right. Who are we to interfere?"

I believe in a great amount of parental autonomy but I have to say when it comes to vaccinating against cancer -- assuming this vaccine is as effective as its said to be -- I'm not sure a parent should be allowed to knowingly expose a child to the risk of deadly cancer. To what end? To prove what point?

Further, when the debate is over the "mandatory" immunization, I assume "mandatory" has wiggle-room in it. I think parents can opt out of MMR vaccination; I assume they could do the same with this one. It might be a pain in the ass to do so, but, you know, if you've chosen to let a kid risk getting cervical cancer which could be prevented by a shot, I think the least you can do is fill out some f'n' paperwork.

Finally, someone says that this form of cancer doesn't happen just from having sex, but from having "promiscuous, non-monagomous" sex. Nonsense. True enough, it would be difficult for two previously-celibate and perpetually-monogamous virgins to ever give each other STD's. But any time you've had sex with more than one person (a threshhold I don't think counts as "promiscuous") in your entire life you have the risk of picking up the HPV from one partner and passing it to another. Of course those who have sex with more partners run a greater risk; but the risk exists for just about everyone.

I didn't mention this in the original piece, but there is sometimes an undercurrent of punitive prudery running through these arguments. One can make a good-faith argument against the vaccine, but sometimes people do seem to be thinking, way back in their skulls, "Well, you're a dirty whore. A little cervical cancer'll learn ya."

Again, not to indulge in ascribing bad faith to any particular opponent, and certainly not to opponents in general. There are good arguments to be made on both sides of most hot-button social issues. I'm just saying that sometimes, from some, I get the vibe that unwanted pregnancy, AIDS, and even cervical cancer can serve as useful object lessons for women of easy virtue.

I don't mind a little prudery. I think society could use a bit more of it. It's the punitive form of it I find a bit, well, nasty.


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posted by Ace at 02:18 PM

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