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I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Friday, February 23, 2007


Virginia has now entered the ranks of those attempting to mandate the HPV vaccine for pre-pubescent girls. I have written extensively about this here. This week’s National Catholic Register has an article about the vaccine controversy and the Texas governor’s executive order for vaccination.. (Only subscribers can view the online article.) Unfortunately, the article seems to mix those who oppose the mandate of the vaccine with those who oppose the vaccine itself. Those who oppose the vaccine itself come across as shrill and hysterical, predicting increased promiscuity if girls are protected from HPV. I fall in the former category and want to clarify my view of the vaccine.

1. This vaccine is ethically produced. It has the potential to prevent infection with the four subtypes of HPV that are associated with 99% of the cases of cervical cancer.

2. This vaccine does not prevent all forms of cervical cancer. It does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, including venereal warts caused by different subtypes of HPV. It does not prevent pregnancy.

3. Women will still need regular pap smears. The only difference between women who have been vaccinated and those who have not is the vaccinated women have a greater chance of having normal pap smears.

4. HPV transmission is not a risk in the school setting or in any community setting. Therefore, HPV prevention does not meet the public health threshold to require mandatory vaccination for school attendance.

5. This vaccine has not established a long enough safe use history to plunge ahead into mandating this vaccination.

Therefore, my own recommendation as well as that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and other medical organizations, is to support voluntary immunization. If this vaccine is such a good deal, parents will choose it. I find it very interesting that Planned Parenthood, the organization that jealously guards a woman’s right to choose abortion as a private medical decision even when that “woman” is a minor, does not support this same woman’s right to make a private medical decision about getting the HPV vaccine. Planned Parenthood strongly supports mandated vaccination.


Christina Martin said...

Interesting, yes. Alas, surprising? No. Planned Parenthood only supports choice when it increases abortion. They never support things like informed choice, or the choice to abstain.

freedom2speak said...

Oh, I hope I do not lose this blog address, because I would like to read your reply.

I agree with #4 fo your points, more than any of them.

But as with any mandatory vaccine, parents can get a religious or personal exemption for their children not to receve the vaccine. . . at least here in Utah. And as much as I would like to believe that I did the best as a Catholic mother to raise my children in accordance with God's law. . .it does not guarantee that my children will do exactly as I have taught them. If the vaccine is mandatory, you are preventing the disease, not going out purposefully and getting the vaccine as a symbol of you promoting promiscuity, correct? Just as with all of the other vaccines.

Do convince me that I am wrong. I am very open to other ways of thinking and would love to see the other side of this issue.

I just thank God that I have sons! I know that there will be issues there, too. But, oh MY! The dilemmas with teenage girls!

Catholic Mom said...


If parents can easily opt out, then the vaccine is in reality optional. Unfortunately, in many states the opt out process is quite complicated and not guaranteed. In fact, Texas requires a parent to fill out paperwork justifying their opposition. This is then submitted to a board who rules on whether the parents' concern meets a reasonable level of concern to allow the parent to opt out.

As I said, I really have no opposition to the vaccine per se. Once I am comfortable with the safety profile, I may very well recommend it for my daughter.

The issue here is mandating a vaccine for a disease that is not a general public health risk in the way measles, polio, or mumps are. This is unnecessary intrusion into personal and parental decisions by a nanny state.