post by Paul Kelleher
Michelle Bachmann went on Jay Leno's show last night and commented on the vaccine for HPV, which the CDC recommends for girls 11 or 12, and which was mandated for all sixth grade girls in Texas under an executive order issued by Rick Perry. (Perry's order allowed parents to opt out and was overturned by the Texas legislature). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer, and the point of the vaccine is to protect girls before they become sexually active.
Speaking to Leno, Bachmann, who has been using the issue to attack Rick Perry from the right, said this:
The concern is that there's, you know, potentially side effects that can come with something like that. But it gives a false sense of assurance to a young woman when she has that that if she's sexually active that she doesn't have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases.
Bachmann's false claim about side-effects has been well debunked already. But what about her other argument: that the vaccine will, on net, lead to more risky and dangerous behavior? Two thoughts. One, it's unclear that the girls receiving the vaccine at the effective request of their parents will even know what's going on. If they don't, the fact that they are vaccinated will not influence their future behavior. But let's assume they have full knowledge of what's going on. Even in that case, Bachmann's worry strikes me as no more or less cogent than the following:
But getting young girls in the habbit of wearing seatbelts gives a false sense of assurance to a young woman when she does that that if she gets her drivers license that she doesn't have to worry about staying in her lane or turning on her headlights at night.
The only difference is that teenagers are required by law to learn how to drive safely, while in many states, the law forbids schools from teaching them about safe sex.