Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The HPV Vaccine

If 500 Canadians were to die from bird flu, the scandal would be enormous. When 400 to 500 women die each year in Canada from cervical cancer and thousands more are left infertile, no one gives a shit. When the Asian tsunami killed 230,000 the outpouring of relief was unprecedented. Yet worldwide, nearly a quarter of a million women die from cervical cancer each year and no one cares.

I'm not one to root for the Conservative Party of Canada ... but there is one item in yesterday's budget that's a huge win for women. The government will spend $300 million to fund the vaccination of females against 4 types of the HPV or human pappilomavirus, the lead cause of cervical cancer.

It's been interesting to see the debate in the United States recently; as the FDA approved the vaccine but social conservative groups are trying to block their states from immunizing teenage females, claiming it promotes promiscuity without any real evidence to back it up. In fact, I heard a talk show on satellite radio a couple weeks back where one caller -- an "outraged mother," I presume -- said the vaccine should be banned and it was going against the will of God.

If we're trying to promote a "culture of life," why would someone be in favour of infertility? Because cervical cancer can cause precisely that, even death. Is that the will of God? And while I do have a big problem with promiscuity (as I hope most people do), what of women who are raped or otherwise abused by their partners who may pass on the virus to their victims? What of molestation within families? I don't think the opposition to the vaccine by groups such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family has anything to do with promiscuity, quite frankly. It's about "parental rights," which is code for abusive parents and partners who are afraid of getting caught and want to do everything to make sure they won't be.

Don't young females have the right to be healthy? To grow up healthy? We think of nothing about protecting our most vulnerable from measles, polio, tetanus, diphtheria. I'm one of the last of the generation that had to be vaccinated against smallpox and no one had a problem with that, certainly not my parents. Why anyone would be against something that threatens the reproducing population is beyond me.

If we're to progress as a society, we need to reproduce and we need as many women as possible who can get pregnant. If the vaccine helps at least some women avoid the risk of infertility, then I'm all for it.

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1 comment:

Tanya said...

You are absolutely right. At least the conservatives did something right for a change.