Social conservatives become “pro-choice” to oppose life-saving vaccine for cervical cancer

May 25, 2006 | By | 2 Replies More

You might think that social conservatives, especially those in the so-called “pro-life” crowd, would welcome the use of a new vaccine that is virtually 100% effective against two deadly strains of cervical cancer that account for 70% of such cancer deaths and that kill over 3,700 women each year.  Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

“Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory…,” so says this article:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/10/31/MNG2LFGJFT1.DTL

Because of the vaccine’s very high efficacy, health professionals want to make the vaccine mandatory for all girls, but social conservatives, whose knee-jerk reaction is apparently to oppose anything that makes sex safer for women, worry that the vaccine might encourage pre-marital sex; so, they favor “pro-choice” — i.e., letting parents chose to not give the vaccine to their daughters.  In a move that can only be described as screaming with hypocrisy (given their support for government interference in healthcare decisions about birth control and abortion), they object to the government overruling the parents’ decisions about giving children this potentially life-saving vaccine.

In other words, according to conservatives, it’s OK for the government to overrule a parents’ decision when the parents want to protect their daughter’s life with effective birth control or an abortion, but it’s not OK for the government to overrule a parents’ decision when the parents want to jeopardize their daughter’s life by denying an important anti-cancer vaccine.  How twisted do the “family values” need to be to arrive at that dichotomy?

So, here’s my question:  even if the conservative argument is valid — i.e., that denying your own daughter a proven, life-saving, anti-cancer vaccine actually would discourage her from having pre-marital sex —  why would anyone with an ounce of moral conscience consider this an acceptable way to deter pre-marital sex?  On what sick moral scale does a risk of premarital sex outweigh a risk of death?

And what is wrong with conservatives that they believe their own failure as parents (namely, their inability to convey to their children their moral values against pre-marital sex) should be compounded by allowing them to endanger their childrens’ lives by denying this vaccine?  Indeed, doesn’t the fact that they want to deny their daughters access to this vaccine automatically discredit them as competent parents?  And what about future vaccines?  If an AIDS vaccine is ever found, will social conservatives oppose that, too, just as they have opposed sex education and the distribution of condoms in public schools? 

And if their decision to deny this vaccine to their child ever leads to the death of their daughter (or of other families’ daughters), exactly how do they square their decision with their so-called “moral values?”  Indeed, how do they even live with themselves?

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Category: American Culture, Current Events, Good and Evil, Health, Medicine, Politics, Reproductive Rights, Sex

About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (2)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Somehow, the idea of spending great effort to protect fetuses only until they are born is an idea that works well for many people. To me it's one of those ideas that shouldn't be considered in isolation. Why? Because all ideas DO relate to each other in the real world. Therefore, we shouldn't go off in the corner and give isolated homage to any particular principles.

    We start acting wackily whenever we hold up any particular principle as a supreme principle, claiming that it need not, in any way, accommodate any other principles. The "war on terror" is another one of those runaway principles. Up there on its pedastal the "war on terror" has plunged us into sharp deficit spending and warped our national spending priorities. To Believers, though, the "war on terror" should have its own separate budget totally separate from any other budget priority. Double accounting books in the name of the "war on terror"

    "Save unborn babies at any cost, until they're born," as though no othe considerations should come into play.

    Beware of all principles presented as singularities!

  2. Mindy Carney says:

    Go, Pilgrim! You are spot on with this one; such hypocrisy leaves me utterly speechless. Thankfully, you weren't, as this needed to be said. And needs to be repeated and sent on to anyone and everyone who will listen.

    Nice job –

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