Syringe 5 With DropsThe recent “tea party” sponsored GOP presidential debate has kicked up some testiness within the Religious Right over the simple matter of a vaccine.

Yes, that’s right, a vaccine.

As the New York Times explains, this controversy concerns TX governor Rick Perry’s support for vaccinating all girls in his state against HPV or human papilloma virus (WebCite cached article):

An unlikely issue — whether to vaccinate preadolescent girls against a sexually transmitted virus — has become the latest flashpoint among Republican presidential candidates as they vie for the support of social conservatives and Tea Party members.

The issue exploded Monday night when Representative Michele Bachmann and former Senator Rick Santorum attacked Gov. Rick Perry of Texas during a debate for issuing an executive order requiring sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, criticizing the order as an overreach of state power in a decision properly left to parents. Later, Sarah Palin, who has yet to announce her 2012 intentions, also found fault with Mr. Perry.

This particular controversy is multi-pronged, as the Times explains:

The issue pushes many buttons with conservatives: overreach of government in health care decisions, suspicion that sex education leads to promiscuity and even the belief — debunked by science — that childhood vaccinations may be linked to mental disorders.

The militant Ms Bachmann insisted that the problem was the “dangerous” nature of the vaccine, however, the HPV vaccine was approved a number of years ago and its safety is not at issue. Rather, from the time it was approved — as Time magazine reported then (cached) — it became a target of the Religious Right, having been tagged “the promiscuity vaccine.” They can claim concern with the vaccine’s “safety” all they want … but really, their sole concern is women’s health and depriving them of control over their own affairs. We already know that the Roman Catholic Church considers the lives of pregnant women forfeit and of no account; the mostly-Protestant Religious Right more or less agrees with this position.

Yes, it’s true: Christianists like Bachmann actually believe it’s better for women to contract illnesses caused by HPV, including deadly cancers, rather than innoculate them early in life, merely because they perceive that it grants girls license to be sexually active. The idea that an HPV virus does so, of course, is completely laughable; it prevents only HPV-borne illnesses, it has no effect on other STD’s, and it doesn’t prevent pregnancy.

It just goes to show that facts and reason don’t matter to the Religious Right, just their emotional assessments, irrational beliefs, and slavish devotion to laughable dogmas.

Lastly, I’d like to give Gov. Perry, whom I generally dislike, some credit here. In the name of promoting health and fighting cancer, he’s taking on his own co-religionists and seems rather determined about it. I only hope he doesn’t cave in to them.

Photo credit: ZaldyImg.

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