(Keywords: politics, medicine, news, reproductive rights, the religious right would rather women die from sex)
We start with this, from ReproLine, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins dedicated to reproductive health:
Human papillomavirus is the most prevalent STD in the world, occurring at some point in up to 75% of sexually active women. Nearly all cervical cancers are directly linked to previous infection with one or more of the oncogenic types of HPV. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include sexual activity at a young age, multiple sexual partners, immunosuppression and HIV infection. Lacking an appropriate vaccine for HPV, primary prevention of cervical cancer must focus on condom use and changing sexual practices as well as other behaviors that increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with HPV.
Good news - according to ABC News, "A Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-0 today to endorse a promising new vaccine that could stop viruses that cause nearly 70 percent of all cervical cancers and genital warts, but the potential distribution of the vaccine is causing political and cultural controversy." What's the controversy?
Well, as ReproLine points out, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. And, when it comes to sex, the religious right would rather see women die.
"This is a disease that's sexually transmitted," said Linda Klepacki, spokeswoman for Focus on the Family. "Because of that, this is a very personal subject and we feel parents should make that decision for their children."
Other opponents go further. Hal Wallace, head of the Physicians Consortium, says the vaccine would send kids a message that, "you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want."
This is idiocy. Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, president of the American Cancer Society, is reported as saying, "Data has shown if you give kids a helmet it doesn't make them fall off [their bike] and it doesn't make them drive crazy."
The problem, as the religious nuts see it, is that the vaccine would be given to children as young a nine years old. Some believe that since the disease is so widespread, it should be on the list of vaccine that preteen girls are required to get. If 75% of all sexually active women get this virus, it's kind of hard to argue that HPV isn't both a public health crisis and an epidemic.
STDs have been exploited by the religious right to claim a 'punishment by God' for groups they don't like. Jerry Falwell once said, "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." Of course, if this is true, then lesbians are God's chosen, since historically they're least at risk. God, apparently, likes to watch.
And the christian right believes this voyeur god is so weak, its will is easily thwarted. Every abortion represents God's will thwarted. Sometimes, this weak god idea is stretched to ridiculous lengths. It was God's will that Terri Schiavo should live, even though taking her off life support would mean letting nature - God's nature - take its course.
This isn't about saving women or keeping little girls from having sex. This is about allowing their weak god to punish harlots.