Back in 2005 a few different vaccines became available that purported to prevent almost all cases of cervical cancer in older women. This was achieved by vaccinating teenage girls against the variations of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that could be spread through sexual contact. Since we had a daughter that was at precisely the right age to be eligible for it, we wanted to get her vaccinated. We understandably wanted to prevent her possible suffering and death from this cancer if it was something so simple that a vaccination could achieve it.
We failed in this task because the vaccine cost far more to purchase than we had to spare at the time, and we never managed to get the right amount of money together at the same time that the vaccination was available. The far too frequently seen trials of life on a fixed income.
Governor Perry put one of the vaccines, Gardasil, on the list of mandated vaccines for Texas, but Christianists objected to this on the grounds that it would keep god’s wrath from descending on those evil children who are just waiting to have wonton sex:
As they flex their political muscle, right-wing Christians increasingly reveal their condescending view of women as moral children who need to be kept in line sexually by fear. That’s why antichoicers will never answer the call of prochoicers to join them in reducing abortions by making birth control more widely available: They want it to be less available. Their real interest goes way beyond protecting fetuses–it’s in keeping sex tied to reproduction to keep women in their place.Virginity or Death! by Katha Pollitt (archive.org/thenation.com)
The kinds of wonton sex that these constipated tightwads never got to enjoy and so consequently don’t want others to have. The vaccination that would avert nearly all cases of cervical cancer if given to girls before they become sexually active, saving the state of Texas untold millions of dollars and preventing the painful deaths of thousands of women, removed from consideration as a mandatory vaccination because it might make those orgasms less costly to pursue. Christianists don’t like the idea of saving anyone from their God’s righteous wrath, so they were foursquare against the vaccine.
Of course these Texas Christianists were granted their wish by their personally anointed state legislature, and the only thing Governor Perry has done during his time in office (that I’ve agreed with) was voted out. Go figure.
This meant that we also couldn’t count on the state to make the vaccination affordable and therefore available to our teenage daughter, and so she never got it. We did manage to get our son vaccinated with it as it was made available for free as part of the regularly scheduled vaccinations that all children should get. So at least he won’t be spreading the virus and giving his girlfriends cervical cancer. It’s the small victories in life that are worth celebrating. It gives you something to do every day. Our daughter remains susceptible to getting cervical cancer at some point in the future because of the backward thinking of the people who control the leadership in Texas.
Fast forward to yesterday. Dude on Facebook posts a link to a Science Based Medicine article on the subject of vaccinations:
Most people have not lived in a time of plagues or remember their effects. Most people do not read history or look at the morbidity and mortality of vaccine-preventable illnesses in the third world. But the reality is that vaccine-preventable illness are still there and the barriers to prevent their return are surprisingly fragile. It doesn’t take much thinning of herd immunity to allow vaccine-preventable illnesses to come storming back. We are always skating close to the edge of infectious outbreaks and not aware of the danger. But reality don’t care if we think vaccines do not work or cause autism or that we give too many too soon. Stop vaccinations and it is not if but when we will see the infections return. We think we are safe from vaccine-preventable illness. We are not.sciencebasedmedicine.org
In the comment thread his idiot brother chimes in with:
“Except for Gardasil, that one is deadly”
I have argued with these two several times in the past. He was a friend from my Libertarian Party caucusing days. I’ve never met his idiot brother, which I consider a mercy. Gardasil is not deadly. There is ample evidence that Gardasil and the other HPV vaccines are lifesaving interventions that do prevent cancer. I posted a couple of links refuting the deadliness of Gardasil, finishing up with this article on the Guardian:
The HPV vaccine is case in point. As this latest study proves, it’s asinine to think that a vaccination is a gateway drug to sex. I have a difficult time seeing “Hey baby, I’m vaccinated” proliferating as an effective pick-up line in the middle-school cafeteria. The vaccinations-lead-to-sex argument also assumes that teenagers are delaying sex specifically because they fear HPV. It probably is true that some teenagers delay sex because they don’t want to contract a whole host of sexually transmitted infections. That’s good and fine, and we should encourage teenagers (as we should everyone) to avoid sexually transmitted infections by both practicing safer sex and delaying sex until one is capable of having a thorough conversation about sex and safety with one’s partner.theguardian.com
I link that one last because I’ve been in an argument with these two before, and I know them for the anti-abortionist / sex is for procreation / no avoiding god’s wrath types that they have presented themselves as in the past.
When I logged back on this morning, there were a series of counter links from the brother appended to the comment thread, including one to a Huffpo interview with a former Merck researcher. All of them, just FYI, bullshit. Bullshit refuted in my previously linked articles.
Except for the one about the Merck researcher, which was something I hadn’t seen before. So I dug up a rebuttal article for that specific subject:
I strongly believe in cervical cancer prevention and the effects of the HPV vaccine. The vaccines will give you a higher chance of a normal screening.Diane Harper (revised article)
…and I added a comment for the person whose wall the conversation was on, pointing out that the vaccinations effectiveness against HPV cancers is well documented.
There then proceeds a back and forth concerning the need for vaccinations for sexually transmitted diseases (diseases that just happen to cause cancer) and ends with his observation “do you ever have conversations where you aren’t derisive?” To which I responded “only when the subject merits it.” He had one more wisecrack after that which was so vacuous it escapes me, and then he unfriended and blocked me, once again instructing me on the merits of arguing on my own wall so that I can retain my own witticisms for later self mortification. The real usefulness of all internet conversation.
Anyway. The point of this is the unanswered last question of mine to him. Considering that sexually transmitted diseases are by far some of the most common diseases humans will be exposed to, I ask the question again: “why wouldn’t we make vaccinations for sexually transmitted diseases mandatory if said vaccinations were actually created and shown to be effective?” The insistence that because the disease is transmitted through sex removes it from the preventative treatment regimen strikes me as one of the most ridiculous arguments I’ve come across.
Yes. How dare I? How dare I speak with derision on a subject which I deemed merited it? When the counter argument highlights a distinction without difference? When the opposition couldn’t win an argument with a wet sock? Pour piss out of a boot with directions on the bottom? Find their ass with both hands? How dare I be derisive when your arguments are so pathetic they can’t even stand up under a little sunlight?