HPV Vaccine: Religious Right Opposition (Update) genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Update II:

Reuters has an article detailing the pending opposition from the religious right to Gardasil, Merck's new cervical cancer vaccine. Read the full article here.

"We don't think it should be made mandatory for school attendance," said Peter Sprigg, vice president of policy at the Family Research Council, who attended the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel meeting on Thursday.

That view is shared by evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family.

"We support the widespread availability of the vaccine, but we do oppose the mandatory vaccination for entry to public school," said Linda Klepacki, an analyst for sexual health for the group.

Dr. Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, which also supports the vaccine but opposes school mandates, said he believes states could resolve the matter by building in some wiggle room.

"Our position is to have an easy opt out," he said. "Make it mandatory in the sense that it is generally accepted, but parents can opt out."

I find it fascinating that any parent would even contemplate opting out of providing a child with a potentially life saving vaccine simply based upon fears of hastening a child's sexual activity. First, the premise, in my opinion is absurd. I find it hard to imagine that a key deciding factor in a child's election to engage in sex is guided by such considerations. That is not to say children aren't concerned about STD's...I just don't see it as the crux of the decision to become sexual.

Generally, children have been exposed to knowledge about most STD's prior to becoming sexually active. The important issue is whether they heed the warnings and take the appropriate precautions. A vaccine simply offers an added level of protection. Merck also points out that the dangers of HPV, the virus the vaccine protects against, are not widely understood by women, making it more important to educate them about the virus and to provide the vaccine.

Merck said it would continue its education efforts while regulatory agencies around the world review the product.

A U.S. television and print campaign, with the tagline "Tell Someone," makes no mention of the company or the vaccine, but Merck is now considering how to integrate the vaccine into its promotional materials, said Bev Lybrand, vice president of marketing.

She said the campaign was "born out of the finding that very little awareness exists among women about HPV and its consequences."



An FDA advisory panel unanimously recommended approval of a vaccine designed to prevent some types of cervical cancer related to the Human Papillomavirus. Reuters reports the following:

GAITHERSBURG, Maryland (Reuters) - Merck & Co. Inc.'s (MRK.N: Quote, Profile, Research) experimental vaccine to prevent cervical cancer moved closer to the market on Thursday as U.S. advisers unanimously said it was safe and effective for females as young as 9.

The Food and Drug Administration usually approves products recommended by advisory panels. A final FDA decision is expected by June 8.


Original Posting

Reuters is reporting good news on the vaccine that protects women against the virus (HPV) that is linked to cervical cancer. The vaccine has been submitted to the FDA for approval but it is likely to create significant controversy as many religious organizations are opposed to vaccinating young girls out of concern that it promotes sexual permissiveness and diminishes the message of abstinence only programs. Given the delays by the FDA on other health issues related to sex including the new day after contraceptive pill and the Bush administrations promotion of abstinence programs in Africa to prevent the spread of AIDS, the vaccine is likely to receive ample political attention...unfortunately. This should be a simple matter of protecting women's health. Read the Reuters article below.

LONDON (Reuters) - A vaccine that protects women against a virus that causes cervical cancer is effective for more than four years, researchers said on Thursday.

They found that women given GlaxoSmithKline Plc's cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix had high levels of antibodies against two of types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) for up to 4.5 years after receiving their last dose.

"These findings set the stage for widescale adoption of HPV vaccination for prevention of cervical cancer," said Dr Diane Harper, of Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire, who conducted the trial.

Cervical is one of the most common cancers in women. Each year 470,000 women around the world are diagnosed with the disease and 230,000, mostly in the developing world, die, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France.

HPV is s sexually transmitted infection. Strains 16 and 18 of the virus are responsible for more than 70 percent of cervical cancers.

Results of a European survey released on Wednesday of more than 1,500 women in five EU countries showed that only 5 percent could identify HPV as the cause of cervical cancer.

Harper and her team followed up 800 women who took part in the original trial of the vaccine in which it was compared to a placebo. Their research is published online by The Lancet medical journal.

Women given the vaccine not only had high levels of antibodies against HPV-16 and HPV-18 but the levels did not decrease over time.

The vaccine also protected against new and persistent infections and was effective against HPV-45 and HPV-31, the third and fourth most prevalent cancer-causing types of the virus.

"The results show sustained immune response and long-term efficacy against HPV-16 and HPV-18 infection," Harper added.

Glaxo submitted the vaccine to the European Medicines Agency for approval in March. But Merck & Co. Inc's Gardasil vaccine was filed for marketing approval in Europe and the United States last December.

Merck is marketing the vaccine in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis in Europe.

Daniel DiRito | May 22, 2006 | 3:45 PM
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1 On April 6, 2006 at 1:13 PM, shawn wrote —

There was a good story about the relatively new (at least in modern times)phenomenon of politicizing science a couple of weeks ago in the New Yorker. This vaccine is sited as but one instance in which the current administration has undermined not only science in general, but public health as well.

2 On April 6, 2006 at 1:52 PM, Daniel wrote —


Thanks for the comments and I will track down a copy of the New Yorker to read the article you reference. The mixing of theology and politics with science is a real concern.

3 On May 24, 2006 at 10:26 AM, (: Tom :) wrote —

Frankly, I don't see too much of a problem, as long as this vaccine is avaiable on demand for those who would choose to protect their children.

Let all the theofascists refuse to give it to their children, as long as they don't stop other parents who might want to protect their kids.

Make sure the kids know about it - as in "having sex with a christian is much more risky. Due to their beliefs, they won't take their medicine, they don't want to learn about sex, and they don't want to have sex with anyone but their spouse. Fine! Don't have sex with them. Don't talk to them about sex. Don't let them talk to you about sex (since they don't have much more than occult superstitions to base their sexual knowledge on). Tell them that they should have no reason to inquire about anyone's sexual habits if they ask you about yours."

I'm resasonably certain that some of them might come around at that point. That's when you really gotta get tough, and tell them that it's for their own good, that you wouldn't want to hurt their chances to get to heaven when they die, and that you're going to tell everyone how they've broken their abstinence pledge, starting with their parents, unless they just forget all about teh secks until they have a wedding ring on their finger.

4 On May 24, 2006 at 10:47 PM, Daniel wrote —


Thank you for your comments and observations. You make some good points and I agree that making people acknowledge the responsibility that comes with the choices they make is a good rule of thumb.

All too often, those on the right live in an abstract world...forcing them to participate in the realities is a good thing.

Thanks again for commenting and I hope to hear more of your thoughts.


5 On December 7, 2006 at 11:45 AM, scorch wrote —

Reading comments, be careful of demonizing those with religious views.

I myself am very religious and usually am a Conservative in those respects (Against Abortion, against Gay Marriage, for example) . . but I can't understand why any reasonable person would not want to protect against cancer . . it's not only the child, but also the adult woman at risk. She may be in a marriage and faithful, but what if the husband cheats? Just like a reasonable person opposed to abortion, would support free birth control to anybody that wants it.

Just stupid to oppose this, and it should be legally mandated. Why even tell the kid what they are getting a vacine for? Just say your getting vacinated against a form of cancer . . no big deal, no "green light" for having sex.

Not having it legally required would give insurance companies the right to deny covering it. Then it becomes an issue of those that have money and those that don't. So it discrimates against the poor.

I hope I raise my two daughters to make good choices and wait for marriage. But I can't always be with them, people make mistakes, and I haven't even mention the possiblities of Date Rape (I know a girl that that happen to her in her 1st year of college - she was drugged and doesn't even remember it - - although the baby is pretty good evidence it happened). My daughters will have this when they are old enough.

As a CHIRSITAN, I support religous freedom, but there are many instances the require immunizations or you can be charged with child abouse . . this should be one of those.

The problem is that the thinking and reasoning Christian (which is the majority), tends to be quiet, while those that don't seem to use the brain the God gave them, happen to get the most press and yell the loudest.

6 On February 8, 2007 at 12:11 PM, Ronda wrote —

I am one of these idiots that oppose this vaccine at the moment. I teach my children not to have premarital sex but one day they may both have sex as teens (I have a son and a daughter). I am not in denial of this fact. Why would I NOT want to protect my daughter from this? It is too new.

I live in Texas where it has now been released as an Executive Order from the Governor that we MUST give this vaccine to our daughters entering 6th grade or they cannot go to school. This is WRONG. I have been researching the HPV virus and the vaccine now EVERY day for a week and reading various sources. The vaccine only protects against 4 of the over 100 strains. It is not 100% effective. Exposure to HPV virus can cause cervical cancer that doesn't appear for 20 years. They have studied this vaccine for 5 years. Does it work? Maybe. Side effects? So far, just irritation and fever - but they are SHORT-TERM side effects. Will my daughter be able to have children 10 years down the road? Maybe, maybe not - we don't know the long-term effects. Will my daughter be more susceptable to other diseases because of the vaccine? Who knows. Will my daughter even be protected when she starts having sex? Guess what? The FDA and Merck have no idea how long the vaccine protects the body from the 4 strains. By the time they figure it out, my daughter could already have NEEDED a booster shot but didn't get it. The FDA letter to Merck states that continued testing is mandatory to evaluate the long-term effects of the vaccine on these young girls.

For me, this is a choice that a parent should have the right to make, not be mandated by the government or face penalties. Child abuse? If I forced my daughter to have this vaccine and she suffered major health problems later - that is abuse. Subjecting your children to second-hand smoke is abuse. Feeding them junk food is abuse. Choosing to protect them against the unknowns of this drug is far from abuse. I have to decide for my child what is the bigger risk - cervical cancer which she can still get even if she is vaccinated or other health problems from the unknown long-term side effects. There is no guarantee either way. However, I will choose NOT to give it to my child to protect her. Her body is not a test tube. As a parent, I CANNOT subject my child to a vaccine that is so many unknowns right now. Test it a few more years to see the long-term side effects and I will consider it. The vaccine should be OPTIONAL - I don't have a right to tell you NOT to give it to your child and you don't have a right to tell me I HAVE to give it to my child. This isn't an issue about sex. It's about protecting our daughters.

By the way, when will we protect our sons from this? HPV virus causes cancer in men too. Our boys are just as much at risk as our girls.

7 On March 29, 2014 at 3:15 AM, plc mitsubishi wrote —

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to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this
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8 On March 29, 2014 at 3:15 AM, plc mitsubishi wrote —

It's a pity you don't have a donate button!

I'd without a doubt donate to this excellent blog! I guess for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed
to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this
blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

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