13 March 2006

Question: Should sex outside of marriage be a capital offense?

Apparently many on the right-wing in the US think so. This is the conclusion I draw from an essaay by journalist Michael Specter ("Political Science: The Bush Administration's War on the Laboratory") in the March 13th issue of The New Yorker. For an interview with Specter on the topic go here. What is the basis for my conclusion? Human papillomavirus (HPV), pictured here, is sexually tranismitted and not only causes gential warts but some strains are known to cause cervical cancer. Specter reports that there now is under review at the FDA a vaccine that promises to prevent transmission of the virus. The administration and its right-wing political-theological "base" oppose making vaccination against HPV mandatory (like vaccinations for other common contageous diseases such as measles). The reason the right is opposed to mandatory vaccination? Immunization will encourage young, unmarried girls to have sex! Let's leave aside the specious claim of moral hazard here. Let's also put aside the obvious fiscal question - would immunization be more cost effecttive that treating the STD and its consequences? Let's even set aside the ethically repugnant distributive implications of allowing the wealthy and well-informed among us to immunize our children against this risk while allowing the children of the poor and less informed to remain exposed. Let's instead ask what this tells us about the right in the US. Failure to immunize children against HPV will help keep the equation of sex and death a self-fullfilling prophecy. It seems simple - the American right wing would rather make itself right than prevent cancer.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The treatment for high risk HPV strains is not great. It often returns and patients are forced to use a LEEP procedure--lazering off areas of the cervic. It can cause complications for pregnancy. If not treated in time HPV can cause extreme enouch cervical changes to require a hysterectomy. This is hardly a suitable alternative to a vaccine that avoids any of these problems.

15 March, 2006 00:37  

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