A Republican said something wrong about science? I’m shocked.

About the only thing Rick Perry has ever done right as governor of Texas is mandate HPV vaccines. (Well, there’s also the case of whoever he hired to do his hair.) Of course, now that he needs to appeal to the majority of Republicans out there, he has been running away from his record. And the other candidates are going right after him:

In case you missed it, [Michele Bachmann] sparred with Texas Gov. Rick Perry Monday night over his executive order that would have mandated vaccination of state schoolgirls against human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer.

“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong,” Bachmann said. “Little girls who have a potentially dangerous reaction to this drug don’t get a mulligan,” she said. “You don’t get a do-over.”

Perry defended the decision, but conceded that the legal mechanism to reach the goal should have been different.

But on the Today show Tuesday morning, Bachmann went further, telling Matt Lauer, that a mother had approached her after the debate to recount the problems her daughter had after being vaccinated against HPV:

“She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection. And she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. The mother was crying when she came up to me last night. I didn’t know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions.”

If it was actually true that vaccines lead to things like retardation, it has to make one wonder just how many injections Bachmann has had in her life.

This is typical Republican anti-science horseshit. The only candidate in that party I can trust at all right now is John Huntsman. He has acknowledged that global warming is manmade and that evolution is a fact. (How he reconciles the latter with his religion is a mystery.) This is a good start since we know that the rejection of some core scientific facts correlates heavily with the rejection of other, more political pertinent scientific facts. (Compare the acceptance of evolution about the world with the rejection of the anti-vax movement or the acceptance of the global warming consensus. Furthermore, correlate religion with it all.) Of course, Huntsman is relatively unknown, including to me, so I’m not familiar enough to know where he stands on many other issues.

Interestingly in all this, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stepped up to indirectly criticize Bachmann’s bullshit:

The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity. In the U.S., about 6 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.

Bachmann isn’t going to give two shits, though. Not only is she interested in appealing to the Republican core, but she probably actually believes half the idiotic things that come out of her mouth. Sure, she will contribute to deaths by cervical cancer via her high-profile spread of misinformation, but it’s election season, so she’s okay with it.

15 Responses

  1. I’m for vaccinations in cases where close contact can transmit diseases, measles and so on, but I’m not sure I would support mandatory vaccination for a sexually transmitted disease.

    I kind of figure that’s either a personal choice or in this case a choice to be left to parents. Not someplace the state should be walking in and telling you what to do.

    But that’s largely ideological, about the governments role in individuals lives. The vaccine is effective and safe as far as I know, so shame on Bachman.

    I’d just like to say that few care about this issue as it relates to the election, and there are more important things they should be debating. I didn’t hear many questions about Afghanistan and few about the jobs bill. An executive order that Perry created a few years back, regardless if Bachman was even correct, is of little consequence and I’d like to stop hearing about it.

  2. “She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection. And she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

    As worded, that’s a bit ambiguous as to whether it was the daughter or the mother who was retarded afterwards. So I’m going with it being the mother who was retarded, since that seems to fit the situation :)

  3. The vaccine saves lives and is safe. Bachmann is a fucktard.

    The Republicans rarely talk about substantive issues. They are the party of superficial bullshit, partially generated by religious dogma.

    When they do venture into real issues, it is usually to lie and make shit up. Lies about AGW. lies about health care, lies about social security…

    and lies of omission like this one:

    Rachel Maddow points out that John Boehner tweeting a survey complaining about how most Americans are unhappy with the economy and think the country is on the wrong track, but did not tweet anything about te survey that says that “Americans prefer President Obama’s approach to the economy over Republicans. They like the American Jobs Act by 43-35, and when you break it down into parts … they like it even more…”

  4. I’m with Nate here. There are two separate issues. One is if vaccines are safe, and the case is closed. They are.

    The other issue is if the law should make vaccinations mandatory. This is one of the greatest challenges I’ve had to libertarian thought, as there is something unpleasant about the idea, no matter how much I support vaccines. However, I can make the argument that not being vaccinated creates a negative externality on the health of others by compromising herd immunity. The point is, this is a question of values, not of facts.

  5. There are other diseases against which kids must be vaccinated before being allowed to go to school. I don’t see where this is a special case. However, parents are allowed to opt out.

  6. You’re absolutely right. I don’t think there is anything special about this case.

    I completely disagree with the parents who opt out, including the woman on NPR yesterday who said she opted out of having her sons vaccinated for a hepatitis strain because she plans to teach them to always use protection and they won’t ever be at risk. Talk about naive….

  7. Still, its not transmittable from merely being in the same classroom, so I don’t see that the state having any business telling people how to raise their children.

    Chicken pox, and so on, sure, but an STD that can cause cancer? I don’t see any reason for it to be mandatory.

  8. It prevents the spread of disease and is most effective at that age. The result of parents not getting their kids vaccinated can be death. The only negative here is the inconsequential treading of some abstract principle.

  9. I’m not sure how abstract a principle it is that people have a right to do what they want with their bodies and with reason parents with their children.

    The risk seems rather low if 6 million have the virus and only 4,000 die of the cancer though. I still say that since it is no danger to bystanders, the government has no right to mandate such things at any level.

    Apparently “keep your laws off my body” only applies to abortion. Just think, if abortion were illegal, we would have lots more tax payers than we do now! I would say abortion has a greater externality than not getting the HPV vaccine.

  10. It’s a virus. It seems irrelevant, even to a libertarian, that it isn’t transmitted via casual proximity.

  11. One of the reasons to require vaccines is because they are inexpensive and those who opt out could come down with the disease and quite often then the government pays for the expensive care.

    Also, many of those who opt out are poorly educated and/or opt out for the wrong reasons.

    I wouldn’t care if people opt out if they isolated themselves 100% from normal thinking people.

  12. Living in a small country I can assure you that vaccines are NOT safe! When batches of the recent bird flu vaccine arrived – the doctors had the vaccines first – and some of them became quite ill – all with the same symptoms! Just the doctors!
    I have a friend who had the MMR at 5 years old and has had ME (CFS to you) ever since – she is now over 40, and been bedridden most of her life. there is a lot of evidence that vaccines do harm people as well as inhibiting the bodies natural defences through the mother to new born children – this is affecting the births in third world countries. All money in big PHARMA pockets.
    How many years have you been taking this degree? Maybe you need to get out in the world and meet real people.

  13. Diane, rumors and anecdotes are just dismissed. If you want us to listen, provide some scientific studies. Uneducated scare tactics are nonsense.

  14. Well again, I don’t think it’s the governments job to stop people from making bad choices. The fact that there is no chance of it being casually spread just by being near an infected person makes all the difference in the world.

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