Give Me Abstinence, or Give Me Death!

You’ve probably heard that Texas will soon require that all 6th grade girls be vaccinated against HPV, which causes cervical cancer. I’m surprised that a conservative state like Texas is taking the lead on this, and by a Republican governor no less. Needless to say, many fundies would rather let their daughters die of cancer than admit that they might actually be interested in sex.

Here’s what the Fundie Research Council has to say:

On Friday, the controversy surrounding mandatory HPV vaccinations reached a new peak when Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) issued an executive order requiring girls who enter the sixth grade in 2008 to be immunized. Perry’s action short-circuited an issue that was currently before the legislature. Rather than allow elected leaders to debate the bill and vote, Perry bypassed the legislature altogether and imposed his will on the state’s parents, many of whom object to being sidelined on an issue that directly affects their children’s health.

First of all, the governor of Texas isn’t an “elected leader”? I know that the executive branch isn’t supposed to make the laws, but this statement is downright disingenuous.

Second, if it were just a matter of their own children’s health, I would agree with the fundies. The government shouldn’t mandate things like that. However, with vaccines, you need to have the majority of the at-risk population immunized, or they don’t work. If enough fanatical Christians withhold the vaccine from their daughters (and in Texas, there are a lot of fanatical Christians), that puts everyone else’s children at risk.

The 20th century was an amazing example of the power of vaccines. We eradicated smallpox (except in the unlocked freezers of the Soviet Union), virtually eradicated polio, measles, and countless other plagues. The life expectancy in the year 1900 for somebody born that year was approximately 49 years. The life expectancy for someone born in 1997 was approximately 76 years (according to this table). Much of that amazing improvement is due to vaccines. Fundies like the Dark Ages so much that they want to return to the lifespans of the Dark Ages.

Preventing cervical cancer is a critical public health goal; however, HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, making it much harder for schools to justify mandating the vaccine as a requirement of public school attendance.

Fundies belong in a sideshow. They’re amazing creatures. Not only can they pull ideas out of their ass, they can talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. That’s more amazing than the bearded lady!

In this case, we’re used to hearing the fundies decry the high rates of teen sex. Then at the same time, they say that there isn’t enough teen sex to justify the vaccine.

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