Michele Bachmann (R-Mars) Doubles Down on Anti-Vaccination
Michele Bachmann is still hammering away at Rick Perry’s mandated HPV vaccinations, with another new video that sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom.
If you listen carefully to what Bachmann is saying (and we all know how painful that can be), she’s actually making two arguments: 1) that Rick Perry is corrupt, and was doing the bidding of the pharmaceutical lobby to profit financially and/or politically, and 2) that HPV vaccinations are immoral and contrary to “family values.”
The first argument (her “crony capitalism” talking point) is not without merit. It isn’t difficult to picture Rick Perry trading political favors with one of the richest lobbies in America. That’s what politicians do, especially Republicans.
The second argument, however, is where she reveals her true objection to the HPV vaccinations, because whether or not Perry was engaged in “crony capitalism,” the larger issue is whether the vaccinations are good public policy. It’s quite possible that Perry had selfish reasons, but I think most reasonable people would agree that it’s good to prevent the spread of cervical cancer; Perry did the right thing for the wrong reason.
It’s clever of Bachmann to try to package her attack on Rick Perry as an argument against “crony capitalism,” but Bachmann’s objection to the vaccine is clearly based on her religious right conviction that preventing consequences from STDs will encourage young people to have sex. She gives it away when she recites the “family values” mantra. Isn’t it a “family value” to try to prevent your children from dying of a horrible disease?
Michael Gerson has a piece in the Washington Post on the HPV debate, with a good comment on this sick and disturbing world view:
The objections to routine HPV vaccination cluster in a few areas. First, it is alleged that removing medical penalties for sexual contact — in this case, HPV and cervical cancer — will encourage sex. A protective shot given to a girl on the verge of sexual maturity, in this view, may be taken as permission for experimentation.
This type of argument is inherently difficult to prove or disprove. But it is unlikely that a 16-year-old making sexual choices is focused on her chances of getting a cancer that might develop 20 years in the future — a hypothetical event beyond the time horizon of the adolescent mind.
The more disturbing moral failure concerns any parent who would entertain this argument. Try to imagine a parent-daughter conversation about sexual restraint and maturity that includes the words: “Honey, I’m going to deny you a vaccine that prevents a horrible, bleeding cancer, just as a little reminder of the religious values I’ve been trying to teach you.” This would be morally monstrous. Such ethical electroshock therapy has nothing to do with cultivation of character in children. It certainly has nothing to do with Christianity, which teaches that moral rules are created for the benefit of the individual, not to punish them with preventable death.
This approach to moral education may appeal to a certain kind of conservative politician. How could it possibly appeal to a parent, conservative or otherwise?
Unfortunately, this argument absolutely does appeal to quite a few fundamentalist parents; that’s why Michele Bachmann is making it.