Republican Candidates Take Strong Stand Against Inoculating Girls Against Cancer-Causing Virus


My jaw dropped when Paul used the words “forcibly” and “sexually transmitted disease” and “12 year old girls” in the same sentence when describing something as basic to public health as inoculation against a virus that currently a full 50% of all sexually active men and women will get. If you did not know what the word inoculate meant, you would have thought from the context of those words strung together that the government was not actually enforcing public health in a non-invasive way as it is its full prerogative to do, but rather encouraging the raping and infection of pre-adolescent children.

This appeal to the almighty wisdom of parents (and in this case religious parents who apparently are less afraid of their children getting cancer than getting condoms) is not a rational commitment to liberty, it is not a rational fear of statism, it is not what should be called “libertarianism”, it is anarchism. It is the view not that the state needs to be kept within the limits of its abilities to successfully do good but the view that the state is inherently evil, that even its actions which are ostensibly only aimed at advancing public health are authoritarian impositions on people’s rights to die of preventable illnesses. And, in this particular case, it is anarchism on behalf of private religious power. Rather than being interested in the liberties of all people, this sort of insistence on “freedom” aims at increasing the abilities of religions to control people’s lives even to the point where those religions want to oppose medical treatments that their moralistic myopia, medical ignorance, and/or indifference to the suffering of others makes them think are evil or unnecessary.

There is no “right to cancer”. Not everything the government does is against the interests of the citizenry and not every law is an usurpation of the rights of individuals. This is absolutist nonsense, not a proper love of freedom.

And the other candidates, were as bad as Paul on this issue:

And Rick Santorum, in response to the question, “What about Perry’s reversal on the wisdom of mandatory HPV vaccinations for young girls in Texas? Is it enough for him to say, ‘oops, I made a mistake’?:

It’s enough to say oops if when fully briefed on what he did that after being fully briefed he made a mistake. But he kept this position for years and in fact was hostile towards those that opposed him. It’s only in recent months that he has decided it’s an oops. That is an election day flip flop for no other reason except that his position is an untenable one. And having the government step in and require this type of vaccination for 12 year old girls without, with parents not having the right but to object. I mean it was forced other than parent’s objecting.

And Michelle Bachmann:

It is wrong for government, whether it’s state or federal government, to impose on parents what they must do to inoculate their children.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • unbound

    I assume these candidates feel the same way about the inoculations / immunizations against Hepatitis, Rotavirus, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, etc. Aren’t those shots also being forced down parents throats in the same fashion?

    It is truly sad is that one of these candidates has a real shot at being President.

  • laisa

    I’ve only one thought: Comparing what these people say to anarchism… is insulting anarchism.

  • ogremk5

    Did any of them mention that Rick Perry was doing that because of campaign contributions and that the vaccine would only protect against one virus version out of the dozens that are out there?

    • Camels With Hammers

      Well, that’s it! No vaccinations until they cover every strand of virus possible!

    • Francisco Bacopa

      Gardasil protects against 4 types of HPV, including the two strains that contribute to over half the cancers.

  • AJS

    Can’t your wonderful privatised healthcare providers just start charging higher premiums for those who have not been vaccinated against preventable diseases?

    Pet insurance companies in the UK won’t pay out, if your dog or cat dies of a disease against which it wasn’t vaccinated.

  • Lassi Hippeläinen

    Those people are so self-centric that they don’t even understand the rationale of immunization. They only think about themselves.

    It’s not about individuals, it’s about populations. When a person with a contagious disease is surrounded by immune people, there will be no epidemic.

    If a few people refuse inoculation, there probably isn’t much danger (depending on how contagious the disease is), but when a large proportion does it, it is almost equivalent to mass murder.

    • Beth

      This argument doesn’t work when discussing a sexually transmitted disease. As you note, it depends on how contagious the disease is and STD’s simply aren’t contagious in the same way that something like smallpox or the flu is.

    • badjim

      You’re absolutely right. Sex, unlike breathing and eating, is utterly unnatural and almost never practiced. If you are so depraved as to engage in it, you deserve to get cancer as a result.

    • Beth

      I don’t object to the vaccine nor the recommendation for girls at age 12. My point is that the argument regarding the danger that unvaccinated individuals pose to the population at large is not applicable to STD’s. Since this is given as the justification for mandating vaccinations, without that justification, why should the parent’s choice be over ruled in the matter?

      Do you have an actual counter argument to that point or is snark the best you can do?

    • rork

      I don’t even get the point.
      More unvaccinated people means more morbidity and mortality in the population. How’s that not “at large”? You can cause the infection of people you will never meet. How’s that not “at large”?

  • The Lorax

    I’m not sure if this is the same, but state laws have been passed in certain states that make it essentially illegal to practice religious-based medicine. Basically, if someone is injured and you pray for them to get better, and they get worse, you can be held accountable for intentionally NOT committing the patient to a competent doctor.

    I can understand that “state government du jour is enforcing law du jour on the citizenship” could be, depending on said law, an infringement of rights. At the same time, it could be a life-saving, wholly necessary action. It all depends on the details, and no one should take the phrase out of context just to bash the opponent du jour.

  • lordshipmayhem

    Aside from my thoughts on vaccination, which to oppose is as ignorant of reality as it comes, we add cancer.

    Cancer, I hate. There are people I detest – but my detestation of them is but a small thimble of dislike compared to the supertanker of hatred I bear toward cancer.

    Cancer, I hate. I would not wish this disease on my worst enemy. Nay, on the worst human being in all of humanity, would i wish this disease upon.

    Cancer, I hate. It killed my father, it helped hasten the end of life for my mother, it has affected more of those I love with pain both physical and emotional than I count.

    Cancer, I hate. It has ripped too many good people from this Earth far too early for anyone to support it with a clear conscience.

    Cancer, I hate. And now the Republican candidates have come out squarely in favour of supporting actions which will see cervical cancer continue to plague innocent women.

    Cancer, I hate. Those who support cancer, I hate. Congratulations, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and your fellow candidates, for you have accomplished something nobody else has managed: I have never hated another human being before. You, I hate, for you have declared yourselves enemy to the entire human species by allying yourself with cancer. I will not do violence upon you, but when (as all of us who live long enough will) you come down with cancer, I shall point and laugh and make cruel remarks about how your ally has turned upon you.

    Rot in Michigan.

    • Johnny Vector

      Oh I am so stealing that. (With attribution.) (If you don’t mind.)

  • Tabby Lavalamp

    Up until the election, why don’t people show up at events and ask, “Candidate X, why are you pro-disease?”

  • Makoto

    One of my big issues with the HPV vaccine is that it’s only been approved for certain age ranges thus far.. so to get it, you have to be young. To everyone saying “it encourages people to have sex”, would you have them wait until they are married to get the vaccine (when sex is approved, so long as your marriage is approved)? Oops, if you wait too long to get married (school, career, etc), you can’t get it as approved currently in the US. So by waiting to get married, you have a coin-toss chance of getting HPV, which can lead to cancer in women. But of course no one has affairs, one night stands, etc, or they’re asking for cancer.. or they’re asking for cancer for their partner, since males can pass HPV to their female partners, even if their female partner has only ever had sex with them.

    This isn’t about kids having sex. This is about preventing cancer. Finally, one set of cancers we know how to stop.. and people fight it tooth and nail.

  • TomZ, a miasma of incandescent plasma

    Really?? I mean… really?? They’re giving priority to personal freedom over the health of minors?? Yeah, uh, GOP, we DON’T do that, m’kay. A threat to a child’s current and future health does not override the belief system of a parent, it’s the other way around.

    How about this? I force my 3 year old child to smoke 10 cigs a day. I do this because I believe, in my heart of hearts, that NOT letting them smoke a little cig, or 10, daily is a gateway to fixation that will be compensated for by smoking crack. What?? You want to take away my freedom to my belief system? You want to take away my freedom of opinion on this matter? You want to tell me how to parent? Me.. me… me…

  • Tisha Irwin

    A) Ron Paul is an idiot.

    B) Michelle Bachmann’s inability to string together even one sentence in simple, coherent English makes me wonder how she ever got a job more demanding than emptying French fry baskets.

    C) Anyone who thinks these vaccines are a bad idea ought to spend a day (and it will take most of a day) watching a total pelvic exenteration on a woman with advanced cervical cancer. That’s where they have to remove every organ in the pelvis (bladder, uterus, vagina, rectum) in order to get rid of the cancer. Then ask those women if they wish they’d been vaccinated when they were 12.

  • Quincyme

    Just remember, these people are only one step removed from the people they represent. They will certainly back the parents who pray for a child to get better rather than a course of antibiotics. Darwin will out (as long as we keep them from their pesky nukes). Perhaps if one of them was suffering from severe facial herpes, gained from a fat old aunt (or uncle) slobbering over them, they might reconsider.

    • Camels With Hammers

      Darwin will out (as long as we keep them from their pesky nukes). Perhaps if one of them was suffering from severe facial herpes, gained from a fat old aunt (or uncle) slobbering over them, they might reconsider.

      “Evolution winning out” does not always mean people the genes of those who make wiser choices increase, only the genes of people who manage to breed the most do.

  • savoy47

    The reason they reject the vaccination is because the cancer is god’s punishment for dirty girls. Same is true for pregnancy. That is why they don’t give a damn about the child after they are born.

    Getting between god and his wrath is a very big no no.

    • Francisco Bacopa

      To borrow a W Bush catch phrase, make no mistake about it: This is all about sex. How dare anyone ever imply that some precious daughter would ever have sex EVER, and if she did it would be only with her virginal young man to whom her father would give her in marriage after a chaste “courtship”. To accept the vaccine is to face the reality that things will go otherwise.

      They’re playing it like we’re calling twelve year olds a bunch of sluts.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Yes. Vaccination is an unforgivable betrayal of basic human rights.

    The PATRIOT act however is just ducky.

  • lexaequitas

    This is pretty horrific. Although with the GOP, there’s so much horrific going on it’s hard to figure out what’s worst — Perry being cheered for killing people, or the candidantes defending the rights of cancer to exist, or any of the other lunacy they tend to come up with.