Tuesday, April 19, 2005

 

Prevent Cervical Cancer? Religious Right Says 'No'

The religious right is attempting to stop women from receiving vaccines that would prevent cervical cancer. According to Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council:

Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV... Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex.

Hmmm... that is the same argument they use when denouncing condoms in schools. I wonder if they would use the same argument if the vaccine were for HIV.

Besides, why can't girls be vaccinated when they are babies? That would a) prevent the cancer and b) would NOT, as Ms. Maher suggests, encourage young women to have sex because they are getting vaccinated at such a young age.

These vaccines could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year and we won't act on it because there is the possibility of increased sexuality. Ms. Maher's argument MAKES NO SENSE when discussing the prevention of a disease. Women do not abstain from having sex because they fear cervical cancer just as getting vaccinated would not induce large numbers of women to start having sex.

The real reason that her argument is presented in such a way is to lay out a binary choice for people. Either you are for abstinence or you're not. If you are for abstinence then by extension you don't want to encourage unwed women to have sex, which is what would happen if they were vaccinated. Therefore if you are for abstinence you must be against this vaccination.

Here let me turn the example around on her. Either you are pro-life or you are not. If you are pro-life then by extension you want to do everything in your power to stop unnecessary deaths, which is what would happen if women were not vaccinated. Therefore if you are pro-life you must be for the vaccine.

I hate this sneaky technique of forcing people into a decision between two things which are NOT mutually exclusive. Anyway, the whole point is that you can be both for abstinence and for the vaccine. Oh, and just as important is the point that the religious right can be very crafty in their attempts to garner support for blocking something as fundamentally important as a vaccine that would prevent cervical cancer.




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