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.

The other anti-vax crowd

By now we should all be familiar with the traditional anti-vax crowd. After all, they’ve been responsible for a number of deaths. But there is a secondary anti-vax crowd. These are the people who don’t object to vaccines based upon their unscientific views but instead because of their religion and conservatism:

Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents’ rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans raise their children.

Emphasis mine.

Of course the usual suspects are out in force opposing Perry’s (rare) good decision, but the religious right is just as present. The concern is an illegitimate one: they believe their kids will start boning up a storm now that they don’t have those pesky cancer concerns, to put it gracefully. But as we know from failed abstinence-only programs and other pro-ignorant policies, keeping kids away from education and various safety methods only causes harm. Besides, does anyone think cervical cancer is really a big concern for kids who want to have sex? And even if it is, do we want to put them at risk? Think about it. These conservatives want to keep their kids from getting this vaccine because they think the threat of cancer is better than the idea that their kids might lose their virginity. Put in that light, these people are monstrous.

I’ve long been of the position that the general public absolutely does not appreciate the danger of cancer. I don’t know if it’s the “It won’t happen to me” mentality or if it’s general ignorance or if it’s something else, but there really is no appreciation. While Gov. Perry probably made his decision based upon lobbying efforts and campaign donations, we do ultimately have a decision that can be appreciated and lauded by the scientific community. This is good for Texas and its young girls, and I’m glad to see it happen.