HPV Vaccine and Bill Maher

I was mean to Bligbi earlier, but she has a posting that makes for very worthwhile reading.

She refers to Bill Maher’s editorial (also a must-read) in Salon regarding the Christian Right’s crusade against the HPV vaccine because it gives girls a “license to engage in premarital sex.”

Bligbi says:

Honestly, what do you think they’d do if a disease was discovered that only threatened married women, but was preventable with a simple shot? They’d demand all us married women get it, perhaps even pass a law requiring the shot. We can’t have our respectable wives and mothers dropping dead on us, eh?

It’s the whores, the sluts and the Lolitas that these Christian groups really want to punish. Yes, they do have it out for us married-not-enslaved women too, but they really despise “loose women”.

I don’t understand the logic, either. But then again, these fundamental Christians are the same people who think the solution to risky sexual behavior is having the children sign abstinence pledges.

As Bill Maher writes:

We all know, there’s only one 100 percent proven method to make a woman abstinent — marry her.



[tags]atheist, atheism, Bligbi, Bill Maher, Salon, Christian, Religious Right, HPV vaccine, sex, Lolita, whore, slut, abstinence pledges[/tags]

  • http://www.frc.org Joe Carter

    I don’t understand the logic, either.

    That’s because Maher is making it up. Salon had to issue a correction after Maher was caught lying about Sen. Coburn’s position. And he also misrepresents the position of the Family Research Council. Here’s FRC’s position on the HPV vaccine:

    FRC announced in October of 2005 that we would enthusiastically support the development of the vaccine and federal approval of its use, including its addition to the list of vaccines recommended to physicians and of those made available to lower-income families through the Vaccines for Children program. Virtually all pro-family public policy organizations have announced similar support for the vaccine itself.

    http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=LH07B02&f=WX06K03

    Maher, like his friend Ann Coulter, is more concerned about demonizing his enemies than he is in telling the truth.

  • txatheist

    Joe,
    I was very curious about this. I read about the Merck deal and it being proposed to Governor of Texas Rick Perry. I read the whole article and looked for these test results from Merck indicating there is no connection to hormone imbalance and this drug. Did you have a contact at Merck or do you have that information?
    Thanks and welcome.

    In our meetings with Merck regarding the vaccine later that year, they indicated that they were quite aware of the potential for sexual disinhibition, and that they had examined that issue in the course of their clinical trials for the HPV vaccine. They assured us that they had found no evidence for any increase in sexual disinhibition in connection with the vaccine. We had no basis for doubting that claim, but encouraged them to continue to study that issue after approval of the vaccine for general use.

  • http://www.frc.org Joe Carter

    I read the whole article and looked for these test results from Merck indicating there is no connection to hormone imbalance and this drug. Did you have a contact at Merck or do you have that information?

    When the vaccine was being proposed Moira Gaul, FRC’s Director of Women’s and Reproductive Health, met with Merck and went over the studies. I’m not sure what all she found but I can ask her about the potential for hormone imbalances.

    From what Moira has told me about HPV and the vaccine, I’d feel comfortable having my own daughter vaccinated. I think the benefits (that we know about) outweigh the potential risks (which, unfortunately, we don’t know about).

    Just to be clear, FRC also supports the proposal to allow Texas schools to give the vaccine. Our only issue with it is that we’d prefer to have the “opt-out” provision be an “opt-in”. We feel that since the disease is not easily transmitted through casual contact or blood, that the threat to public health is not so great that that state’s authority must supersede the parent’s right—and responsibility—to make decisions about their child’s health.

  • Siamang

    I was going to comment similarly. I’ve heard plenty of people on the left COMPLAINING that the religious right was trying to quash this vaccine. But I’ve never seen a cite of a direct quote to that effect.

    Can anyone give me any quote where a right wing group is actually against this vaccine for promiscuity reasons?

  • Karen

    Siamang –
    From the NY Times, June 30, 2006:

    Because Gardasil prevents a sexually transmitted disease, some religious groups have sounded reservations about vaccinating young girls.

    “You can’t catch the virus, you have to go out and get it with sexual behavior,” said Linda Klepacki of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group based in Colorado Springs. “We can prevent it by having the best public health method, and that’s not having sex before marriage.”

    Ms. Klepacki’s group opposes mandating Gardasil vaccinations. States and school districts have the power to decide whether to mandate vaccinations, but such decisions are usually not made until at least a year after a vaccine is introduced.

    The article concludes with this sentence:

    Although a few religious groups have expressed mild reservations about the vaccine, many conservative organizations support it.

  • Atheist MD

    Pardon the soapbox. There are many more issues reguarding this vaccine then how it is transmitted (which is the religius groups main objection) and how it will cause teenage promiscuity. The main objection to making this vaccine manditory should be (IMHO) is that they want to make it manditory. This move takes away the /patient/parents ability to weigh the risks and benefits to determine if it is right for them/their family/their child(ren). Vaccination is a medical decision and when the government starts mandating medical decisions (with the exception of those with high morbidity/mortality AND is also contagious) they will not stop at vaccination and soon they will be mandating the treatments or non-treatment of people with illnesses because they (the government) says it is what is best. This is the most important argument (IMO) againt this vaccine. While this objection is more socio-political the other arguments are more scientific in nature.

    Other objections stem from 1) the actual prevalence of the disease and 2) poor methods used during the clinical trials.

    1) The major new sources are reporting that 25% of women are/have been infected with HPV. What they fail to mention is that 90% of these infections clear on their own within 2 years (with no treatment) and that only 3.4% of women are infected with the types that are in the vaccine and on 2.3% have the type that cause cervical cancer and are in the vaccine. So looking at raw numbers, Last year there were 9,700 new cases of cervical cancer, and 3,700 deaths. Experts say that 85% of those deaths could have been prevented with regular Pap smears. So perhaps an additional 550 deaths might have been prevented because of the vaccine. (This brings us to the problems with the data from Merck.)

    2) My first problem with the vaccine trail is that there was no true placebo (something biologically inert, like saline) used. What they used was an aluminium solution which has its own side effects and is a part of the vaccine. So this calls in to question all of the data concerning the side effect profile. Three other things that bother me about the trial are: 1) that while it is approved for girls as young as nine the study on included a small number of individuals in this age group. Without data in this age group how are we to assured that it is safe or effective. 2) After about 3 years had passed they decided the vaccine was a “success” and gave it to all the people who received the so-called placebo their by distroying all possibilities of determining any long term side effects of the vaccine and 3) since the study did not continue long term (and cancer takes a long time to deveop to point where it is detectible) there is no evidence to indicate that the vaccine actually prevents cancer or how long it is effective if it does. So for all we know the little girls that are being injected with the vaccine now will be completely unprotected when they start having sex 4-10 years later.

  • Siamang

    Thanks for the cite, Karen.

    Atheist MD, thanks for the skeptical read on the science…I appreciate it. This, however stuck out at me:

    Vaccination is a medical decision and when the government starts mandating medical decisions (with the exception of those with high morbidity/mortality AND is also contagious) they will not stop at vaccination and soon they will be mandating the treatments or non-treatment of people with illnesses because they (the government) says it is what is best.

    Sorry, slippery slope. ‘Once the goverment starts requiring vaccinations, they won’t stop until they control every decision we all make forever, in a hive-mind Borg-like existence!!!!!’

    AtheistMD, That’s a slippery-slope argument. Not valid if there are other stages along the way where the public would oppose such a move.

  • stogoe

    Herd Immunity? Anyone? Anyone?

    Prevents Cervical Cancer? Anyone? Anyone?

    Methinks Atheist MD is so skeptical their brains fell out. Woo Woo!

  • Atheist MD

    Siamang said

    Sorry, slippery slope. ‘Once the goverment starts requiring vaccinations, they won’t stop until they control every decision we all make forever, in a hive-mind Borg-like existence!!!!!’

    AtheistMD, That’s a slippery-slope argument. Not valid if there are other stages along the way where the public would oppose such a move.

    I admit that my slippery slope “argument” is a bit overblown. But as we have seen in recent years with the errosion of many of our other civil liberties in the name of security that the public does not alway recognize what is begin done until it is over and very difficult to reverse.

    stogoe said

    Herd Immunity? Anyone? Anyone?

    Prevents Cervical Cancer? Anyone? Anyone?

    Methinks Atheist MD is so skeptical their brains fell out. Woo Woo!

    1. . Herd immunity only exists with communicable diseases, those that are passes thru the air or by casual contact like mumps, measles chicken pox etc. You can’t get HPV by talking to someone on the street or sharing a soda you have to have unprotected vaginal intercourse. Why should anyone be FORCED to get a vaccine for something you can’t pass on without penetration? I am not saying it should not be available for those who want it for themselves or their children but people should not have to jump thru governmental hoops to opt out.

    2. There is absolutely no proof that this vaccine prevents cervical cancer. There is only proof that is gives protection against 4 stains of HPV, 2 of which have been associated with the presence of pre-cancerous cell on the cervix. But when only 10% of those infected with the two “cancer causing” stains even develop those pre-cancerous cells and 90% clear the virus with no complications (an most times never know it is there). There has been no causal link found only an association. How do you explain the men who are infected with HPV (and there has to be because that is the only way women can get it) but there is no HPV associated Penile Cancer, urethral or testicular cancers. This indicates to me that there is something more going on.

    As for the last comment. Sorry, but I have taken to the time to read the clinical trail data (form both the US, Russia and the UK), the actual information on the prevalence of the disease and the risks of developing cervical cancer and the package insert and did not rely on the biased information in pharmaceutical advertisiments (commercerial and info given to docs) and the scare tactic of mass media reporting.

    You feel free to beleive whatever you want about the vaccine and get it for yourself, your family and convince all your friend that they need it. But I, and everyone else, should have the choice to make the decision for ourselves and not be forced into it by the government (who we know always makes the right decisions)

  • Ken

    I find it interesting that I had noticed Merck ‘s aggressive radio and TV ad campaign advocating the HPV vaccine long before I had even heard about this proposed mandate. An example (I think the campaign is “One Less”):

    “Each year in the U.S., thousands of women learn that they have cervical cancer. I could be one less. One less statistic,” says a woman in the ad.

    I also find it interesting that the Salon writer seems to have fully bought into it. But maybe that was to increase the perceived absurdity of the supposed Religious Right’s comments?
    Well heck! Seems so simple, why not get it? I’ll give you million$ of reason$ why Merck wants you to get it. And preventing or curing HPV is surely not on the top of that list. Success in business is. I am sure that the Merck has a whole lot riding on the success of this latest magic potion so I understand why they have decided that every woman in the world should be vaccinated. Profit is a sweet reward. Don’t get me wrong though, I believe in capitalism.
    But I have better idea. How about, instead of using scare tactics and shoddy statistics, let it succeed on its own merit and stop trying to lobby for a government mandate?
    Of course that would be like asking a leopard to change its spots…not gonna happen.

    Go ahead and promote the hell out of it but no mandates!

    Oops, I forgot, this threat was about bashing the Religious Right for advocating abstinence or for suggesting that HPV can only be spread by having premarital sex, therefore is not a threat to good kids. I do not agree with Linda Klepacki because her claim is rather silly. However, I do think that we do no harm at all by promoting the idea of abstinence as opposed accepting the “they’re gonna do it anyway” premise.
    I firmly believe that parents should be the ones guiding and, when necessary, controlling their child’s behavior and belief structure though, not the school or state. But we have created an interesting problem with our little social engineering project and the lack of required parental involvement. Much of the mess we face in our schools now is because of that failed socialist leaning experiment and it needs to be reversed or, at a minimum, not accelerated.
    Raising and caring for children is the parent’s responsibility, not the school or state. The decision whether or not to get this vaccine for the child is the parent’s.


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