Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bachmann on the HPV Vaccinations

Such is the state of the Republican Party these days that the greatest offense its candidates could find in Texas governor Rick Perry's political history is his interest in saving the lives of girls and young women.

In 2007, Perry signed an executive order to have Texas girls 12 years old and older immunized against human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is known to lead to cervical cancer, and the vaccine significantly decreases the chance of getting this cancer.

Presidential candidate Michelle Bachman had this to say about the decision.

"I'm a mom and I'm a mom of three children and to have them make 12-year old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. That is a violation of a liberty interest."

So, Ms. Bachmann, have you had your children vaccinated against polio, measles, small pox, or tetanus? Or, as a mother, did you leave your children vulnerable to these disease?

There are those who do not want their children to be vaccinated against HPV because they do not want to encourage their children to have pre-marital sex.

Let's set aside the fact that one can get the virus from a marital partner who turns out to be less than fully faithful, or from rape, and focus on this argument for a moment.

Morally, this argument shares a lot of moral ground with the practice in some culture of killing (usually by stoning) women and girls caught having sex outside of marriage. It even shares the fact that these executions sometimes involve the victims of rape. The one difference is that, in those cultures, the guardians of household "honor" are willing to kill the women and girls themselves and take responsibility for their actions. American honor killings by proxy involve setting things up for a virus to do the honor-killing, so the defenders of family "honor" can say, "I didn't do this."

However, we can trace the fact of the woman's death to facts about the moral character of those who did not care to protect her from that death.

"But I love my daughter," many of these defenders of honor would say. "How dare you say that I do not."

I would bet that parents in other cultures who intentionally kill their children for reasons of honor also claim to love their children. Indeed, they might even say that love is what motivated them to do the killing.

Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night, right?

I wonder if Bachmann recognizes that these liberty interests she talks about have limits. Parents have no liberty to best or rape their children. Nor do they have a right to lock their children in cages. Hey are obligated to see that their children get an education and are properly fed.

Children do foolish things, and one of the obligations of a parent is to make sure that the immature and poorly considered actions of a child do not get her maimed or killed. It is not a part of this description to cheer for or carry out her killing.

And now, let us bring back the fact that, in some cases, the woman or child has not done anything foolish. In some cases, she was the victim of a violent crime or of another person's careless disregard for her welfare.

Perhaps Bachmann's protest is not against forcing parents to protect their children from a potentially fatal illness, but the fact that Perry acted through an executive order rather than through the legislature.

I would agree - Perry should have gone through the legislature. he should have fought for it openly and he should have won.

However, the Texas legislature made clear their preference for honor-killings by viral proxy over child welfare when they passed revoking the executive order. Perry signed the law, saying that the legislature clearly had the votes to override the veto. This tells us how important honor-killing by proxy is to the people of Texas.

Now, Bachmann has added phony claims about the immunization causing mental retardation. I'll have more to say on what this tells us about Bachmann's moral character - and Perry's in my next post.



7 comments:

Jesse Reeve said...

The Texas legislature's actions put men at risk too.

Human papillomavirus can cause anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers, among others, to which men are susceptible as well as women.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_papillomavirus#Cancer

Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) was not FDA approved for use in men until 2009. But inoculating young women with it in 2007 would still have given men some degree of protection through herd immunity, and made it easier for the program to be expanded to young men when FDA approval came through.

Jesse Reeve said...

Also, while googling a bit I found this amusing quote from Governor Perry:

"The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million. If you're saying I can be bought for $5,000, I am offended."

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/8960-rick-perry-defends-legislating-by-executive-order-ron-paul-condemns

Let those concerned with political corruption be reassured: Rick Perry's price is significantly higher than $5000.

psychadelicfuse81 said...

I never thought of it that way; brilliant!

When you do analyze the situation, purposefully exposing a minor to risk of HIV infection as some sort of punitive measure is no better than an honor killing in many ways. You hit the nail on the head.

Christopher Paino said...

Are you really saying that you believe the Government should be able to mandate what chemicals a person puts into their own bodies? Really?

If so, you must be insane. I do not care what the "risks" are. No one, and I mean NO ONE has a right to tell another human being what they will or will not do with their body.

The greatest, most sucessful, drug in the history of mankind could be invented; it has zero side effects and cures every possible aliment, causes weight loss in the obese and weight gain in the underweight, and grows hair on the baldest of heads, but NO ONE will tell me that I am required to take it.

Thinking "I think this is right for me," is perfectly acceptable. But as soon as you think "I think this is right (or wrong) for everyone," you cross the line into insanity.

You want to take any particular drug? Great. Go for it. Have at it. Have a fantastic time. But don't you DARE try to tell another living human what they will or will not do with their own body.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Christopher Paino

Are you really saying that you believe the Government should be able to mandate what chemicals a person puts into their own bodies? Really? If so, you must be insane.

Actually, I am mandating what chemicals a parent may or may not put into a child's body.

Like . . . carbohydrates (or "calories"). I think it is far from insane to insist that a parent provide their child with a certain minimum number of calories. Starving a child to death should be a crime.

And, in addition to calories, parents are obligated to provide their children with those chemicals that are necessary to maintain a healthy metabolism. A parent who feeds a child pure empty calories (say, 200 grams of pure sugar per day) would be guilty of neglect. The child may be taken away and given to somebody that will provide her with proper nutrition.

The same is true of parents who refuse to protect their children from diseases. It's all the same principle.

Far from being insane, I hold that the moral obligation - and the moral permission of the state to interfere with parents who ignore this obligation - is quite straightforward.

Christopher Paino said...

You seem to base much of your thoughts of what should be mandatory for every living human on the planet on morality, and therein lies the most basic error anyone can make.

Morals can never be definitively determined to be either correct or incorrect. Mutually agreed upon at a particular moment in time certainly, but due to the inherent volatility in my opinion morality should have zero bearing in any form of governmental regulation of the populus, because any type of "state morality" is an illusion.

Whose morals are you basing your opinions on? Why do you think that your morals should apply to everyone? If I decide that I do not want to give my child a particular vaccination, you simply have no right whatsover to force me to do otherwise regardless of the reasons I might have even if I appear to have no reason at all. You can attempt to convice me one way or the other until the cows come home, but that is it.

Your morals end where my morals begin.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Whose morals are you basing your opinions on? Why do you think that your morals should apply to everyone?

This is as much of a nonsense question as asking, "Whose math are you basing your equation on" or "whose physics are you basing your engineering on?"

Or "Do you think your physics should apply to everyone?"

First of all, it is not "my" physics or "my" morality. It is a description of what is true in the world. And it applies to everyone in virtue of the fact that it is true - even to those who do not believe it.

Yes, I hold that there are moral facts. They exist as relationships between malleable desires and other desires - they are grounded in the desires that people generally have reason to promote or inhibit through social practices such as praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment.

You may challenge me to say, "What right do you have to force this view of morality on me?"

Well, I hold that I have the same right as the chemist who says, "An atom is a primary object of an element made up of electrons, neutrons, and protons." You can ask him the same question about forcing his chemistry on others. When you understand why the chemist will ignore your question, you can understand why I ignore your question.

It is what logicians call a "complex question" - a question of the form, "Do you still rape your children?"


If I decide that I do not want to give my child a particular vaccination, you simply have no right whatsover to force me to do otherwise regardless of the reasons I might have even if I appear to have no reason at all.

We have two routes we can go here.

We can accept your standard. But your standard says, "Why do you think that your morals should apply to everyone?" They don't apply to me. I hold that I do have such a right - that society has a right - to prohibit you from starving your child to death - to forcing you to provide your child with sufficient food of the right elements to prevent neutrition (for example), or to take your child away from you if you do not.

Or we can accept my standard. I hold that such a right consists of a state of affairs for which people generally have reason to promote a like or an affection - or a dislike for violating. And that there is a fact of the matter. And we have many and good reasons to promote an approval of seeing to it that children are fed nutriotious meals where possible.

So, either way, I have such a right.

I find it particularly entertaining when somebody says, "There is no objective morality; therefore, you are morally prohibited from forcing your morality on others."


You can attempt to convice me one way or the other until the cows come home, but that is it. Your morals end where my morals begin. on Bachmann on the HPV Vaccinations.

The fact that you opt to be closed-minded is not evidence that I am wrong. There are people who refuse to ever be convinced that the earth is actually a sphere. Yet, it is a sphere. Because the shape of the world cares nothing about your opinion. And the legitimacy of seeing to it that children are provided what is needed for their health and well being cares nothing for your opinion either.