Thursday, September 20, 2007

Maybe it's because the bishops don't have kids ...

This is a bit late in coming, but I applaud the Halton Catholic School Board's decision Tuesday to permit the public health authorities to innoculate female students in the board's system against the HPV virus. York decided the same night not to even vote on the issue (an implied thumbs-up). Last night, the Toronto Board voted 9-3 to go with the program also.

I wrote about my opinions about the HPV vaccine back in March of this year (here) and nothing has changed my opinions since then. Contrary to what the Ontario Bishops claim, HPV is not only transmitted through sexual contact. It is quite possible to get it from blood transfusions as well as from genetic inheritance. There's a one in four chance I have it, but I'm not going to ever exhibit symptoms because as a male I am asymptomatic. But if I was in a relationship I would not want unwittingly to pass on the virus to my companion.

The overriding concern would be as a parent. I'm not one yet, but let me throw this out:

Some parents are concerned about illicit sex conducted by their kids as well as they should be. But the vaccine does not encourage it. Let's face it, if kids are going to have sex they're going to -- and Catholic teenagers actually have sex more often than their non-Catholic counterparts. Perhaps the bishops wish to ignore this fact. Or perhaps they wish to ignore the fact that men who in fact know they have the virus rape women to make sure they get cervical cancer on purpose.

Are the Catholic bishops suggesting that if a female student doesn't get the vaccine she will never be raped? Like an attacker would know if she had gotten it or not? If I was a parent and I knew of something that would reduce the risk of getting a disease by 70% were my daughter attacked, I'd go for it -- bishops be damned. Even if the parents object, it is a teenage female's right to still get the vaccination from her physician for she has the right to privacy.

Perhaps the bishops are also suggesting that it is better to be a man than it is to be a woman. After all, it's not like they're ever going to have kids. Yet in a number of respects Jesus of Nazareth had a better friend in St. Mary Magdalene (although they were not married) than he ever had in St. Peter -- and even Peter was married and had kids. I hope and pray, as a Catholic, that other Catholic school boards in this province follows the law and not the naïveté of the bishops; for I believe in this case the law actually respects the will of God that women be healthy.

Health authorities should of course monitor side-effects such as the occasional incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome (a form of muscular dystrophy) and inform students of this possibility, but for now I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks.

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1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Are the parents really demanding this? If the parents aren't getting off their butts to get the vaccine for their kids, why should the schools be doing this job?

When you create the expectation that kids have sex, then that is one less psychological barrier to having sex. You can't teach chastity, and then say "oh, but you guys are going to do it anyway, so..."