Thursday, July 06, 2006
  Do Religious Conservatives Really Oppose HPV vaccine?

I was going to have something to say to the religious people who opposed the HPV vaccine. You see, I'm religious, and morally conservative. I strongly believe in abstinence until marriage. And I approve of the vaccine whole heartedly. There are a number of reasons why a young woman who is being abstinent could find a need for the vaccine: sexual abuse, rape, or marrying a husband who wasn't abstinent.

But then I looked for these adamantly opposed Christians. I found a lot of articles decrying religious conservatives for their objection to the vaccine, but no religious conservatives objecting to it. It seemed that everyone coming down on those who oppose the vaccine were merely circulating a very small handful of out of context quotes.

I went to the site of the Family Research Council. Nothing about it on the front page. Nothing about it on their bioethics page. So I searched on their site and came up with their official press release about the subject:

"The Family Research Council welcomes the news that vaccines are in development for preventing infection with certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. We also welcome the recent reports of promising clinical trials for one such vaccine. Any medical advance in this area holds potential for helping to protect the health of millions of Americans and helping to preserve the lives of thousands of American women who currently die of cervical cancer each year as a result of HPV infection. Media reports suggesting that the Family Research Council opposes all development or distribution of such vaccines are false. "

Emphasis mine.

Even Focus on the Family says:

"Recognizing the worldwide detriment to individuals and families resulting from HPV, Focus on the Family supports and encourages the development of safe, effective and ethical vaccines against HPV, as well as other viruses. The use of these vaccines may prevent many cases of cervical cancer, thus saving the lives of millions of women across the globe. "

I do need to note that both of these organizations disapprove of mandatory vaccination.

But there are two serious problems with this kind of reporting, besides the fact that it clearly shows a bias that skews the reporting.

One: it serves only to further divide our nation.

Two: Christians could easily be taking a clue from mainstream media about what opinions their peers have. Do you think, as soon as they hear quotes that one of their groups opposes the vaccine, that they are going to run to the primary source to find out if that is true? It is the people least likely to think rationally about things that will simply acquire the opinion that HPV vaccines are evil because mainstream media and every blog out there said that their leaders opposed it.

So, as a result of this kind of reporting, there may be fewer girls who get the vaccine than if their doctor just said "Hey, we have this vaccine against HPV, here are some good reasons why you should vaccinate your daughter."

"But she is going to be abstinent."

"She's a good girl, I'm sure she will. But what if her future husband isn't? What if something happens? Wouldn't it be better if she were protected? And now is a good time, because she won't even have to think or worry about it should any of those circumstances occur."

But now there is this supposed controversy. Now the mother can reply "Well, I'm a Christian, and we don't do that."

Thanks, media.
Count on the media ... :p

Thanks for posting that!
And what about the woman who finds herself at 35 after years of promiscuity? She deserves the vaccine too. And so do the women who never do find peace on this earth. To denounce any kind of vaccine that will end or minimize suffering for any group of humans is not very Christian imho. I am glad the press is not reporting accurately in this instance, but that certainly does not stop me from wishing they would. It might reduce the pain of some good girls who have a bad night or two....or 2000.
Hey mom, you are preaching to the choir about that. If we can prevent suffering, it is our moral obligation to do so without judgement.

And welcome to my other blog :) Hope I don't wierd you out too much...
Sorry, coming to this late. You're missing one element, though. In previous years before the vaccine was such big news, groups like FoF and other *had* spoken out against it, worried it would cause increases in promiscuity, etc. Some of their mouthpieces still do, contrary to what the group's "official" statement may be. So the media is absolutely right to report this, and to show how crazy it is. Recently, though, there has been backlash to those very viewpoints, coming not only from the left but also from, as you note, other religious conservatives, which has caused these groups to change their tone a bit (going from "we oppose this vaccine" to "we oppose making this vaccine mandatory." I've been following this for years, and IMO it's not poor media coverage; it's poor promotion of the newest spin from some of these groups. Don't expect the media--or public health folks such as myself--to forget what you said in the past, just because now you've made an about-face, y'know? ["you" meaning the groups that have done this, not "you" particularly...]
In a way, your backlash comment proves my point. Religious conservatives never opposed the vaccine or its development. Why was there a backlash? Because their stance was so outrageous and not conforming to judeo-christian ideals.

There are a lot of deeply religious folk, very morally conservative, who regularly cringe at these public organizations. There are many of us who are very disenfranchized by them, namely people of the Jewish and Mormon faiths.

But the point is, these organizations changed their official stance to reflect the opinions of the people they represent, and it is somewhat irresponsible of the media to not cover this fact, for a number of reasons but especially for the one I noted: many people will adopt this as their stance regardless of whether it Christian or not.
"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful," Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council told the British magazine New Scientist, "because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex."
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A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

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Granola is a mix of things: grains, nuts, bits of dried fruit, maybe some coconut. There's some fat in it, and it's a good source of fiber to keep those arteries and colons clean.

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