Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds

Condescending to Parents Over the HPV Vaccine

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Become a Fan
  (8 fans)
The debate over the vaccine for the virus that causes cervical cancer, has resulted in some strange bedfellows. Liberal activists, suspicious of the motives of Merck - the maker of the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus - have found common cause with members of the Religious Right, who are up in arms over the suggestion by the CDC that pre-pubescent girls should be vaccinated for a sexually transmitted infection. For example, Air America Radio's Mike Papantonio recently appeared on the Alex Jones radio show, along with representatives of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, expressing concerns about the safety of the new vaccine.

Meanwhile, those of us with daughters to raise are trying to balance their present lives against their future risks. State legislators are also trying to sort through the conflicting claims about a virus that causes the second-most common cancer in women, killing 38% of American women who contract it.

One of those claims, expressed mostly by Religious Right groups, that the administration of the vaccine will be interpreted by girls as "a license to engage in premarital sex" - as Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council recently told New Scientist magazine - is based on some assumptions about how parenting works. Those assumptions need to be tested in the light of day, since they run counter to the experience of many of us with teenage daughters. Paradoxically, this cry for more "control" by parents, actually insults parents by assuming that we are unable to take control over the messages we pass onto our daughters.

Parents begin taking their children to the pediatrician for immunizations shortly after they're born. We take for granted our power to make these decisions; a power that our children learn to respect. The choice of what to tell our children about that decision, remains in our power, as well. How many parents delve into a detailed explanation of every scheduled vaccination with their children? Why should the HPV vaccine be any different?

More to the point: as parents, why should we accept the notion that the values we plan to pass on to our daughters is so easily veered off course by a medical intervention? It is ironic that this "promiscuity" scare by the Religious Right - and cited by the media and legislators - claims to be concerned with parental power, while giving parents so little credit. We have the ability to frame any protective measure as a precaution, not a license. For example, when we buy insurance for our teenage drivers, we don't present it as a license to drive unsafely. Giving our children a vaccine does not take that power away.

In fact, there is reason to question the feared loss of parental power. According to Cybercast News Service, Dr. Gene Rudd - a gynecologist, and the associate executive director of the nation's largest faith-based medical body - acknowledged that these decisions will remain with the parents:

"While we should be concerned about healthcare decision-making that could encourage poor sexual choices, I do not see a clear linkage between the decision to accept this vaccine for a six year-old child, or even age 12, and subsequent sexual decisions," he added. "The vaccine decision will likely be made by the parent."

Further, research at the Medical College of Georgia produced some interesting findings:

"We were concerned that parents may worry about vaccinating their children because it could be viewed as condoning sexual activity at an earlier age," Dr. Daron G. Ferris, director of the college's Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Center, said in a statement at the time. "Our study showed that this is not the case."

Sadly, the very argument that assumes that parents have no control over the messages they send with respect to vaccinations, rests on the following logic: that if we can just control our daughters' behavior prior to marriage, we can control their risk of contracting HPV, and therefore, cervical cancer. But of course, we can't control the sexual history of their eventual marriage partners, even if they do postpone sex until marriage. Perhaps the Religious Right should get a grip on what parental control is really about.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Fried-Ph.D./e/B004QOOD04/ref=ntt_d

Amy Fried is the author of "Escaping Dick Cheney's Stomach." She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, and has been an advocate for church-state separation and other civil liberties issues. She writes on women's issues, media, veganism and (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

What Erectile Dysfunction Ads Say About Our Culture and Our Health

What Makes a Good Leader?

Confessions of a Junk Food Vegan

Why Disability is a Feminist Issue

Old Enough to be Raped

What Part of "Emergency" Don't You Understand?

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Excellent rebuttal to the moral objections of the ... by DianneL on Friday, Mar 2, 2007 at 10:52:54 AM