by Fran Eaton
Few things set a person back on his or her heels quicker than getting a call out of the blue from the former chairman of the Republican National Committee asking how he or Merck could convince you to support mandating a vaccine against a virus transmitted by sexual activity.
I suspect Governor Perry of Texas may have received such a call before issuing an executive order mandate for all 11 year olds. A call like that, in addition to pressure from his Chief of Staff, whose family member lobbies for the HPV vaccine producer, was probably just enough to push him into the hot water he's boiling in right now.
And if he got such a call, he should know he's not the only one. Several conservative activists throughout the nation heard from a particular Merck consultant over the last few months, asking how resistance to the HPV vaccine could be pared down.
I was one of them.
Last summer, former RNC Chairman Jack Oliver -- the highest fund raiser in RNC history -- called to ask me what it would take to get parents rights advocates like me to go neutral on the HPV vaccine. He said that several people had referred him to me because I served on Illinois Immunization Advisory Committee as a parents' advocate, and he realized he needed me to sign off on the vaccine.
Oliver had done me a big favor in 2000, when he worked to get a letter for me from the newly-elected George W. Bush to several thousand home schooled students who had participated in an online study plan we put together for the Bush campaign. Following the days of finally declaring victory, a mad scuffle took place to set up the new administration, and a letter to each of our Home Schoolers for Bush participants that had been promised appeared to have fallen through the cracks, and was on the verge of disappointing all those kids who had worked so hard for Bush's election.
Jack Oliver saved the day. As campaign chairman, he stepped in and got the letter in motion, sparing all those broken hearts. He did us all a favor, but, I thought, he really owed us. . . we after all, helped his guy get elected.
All this swirled through my mind as I heard Jack's voice on the other end of the line last summer when he said he was calling on Merck's behalf.
"Jack, look, I'd like to help you, but I can't," I said. "There's absolutely no way I can sign off on any mandatory vaccine -- and especially one associated with STDs. "
"Will you take a call from a Merck rep on this?" he asked.
"Sure, but I'll tell them the same thing I just told you," I replied. "I'm sorry, but I won't budge on this."
Next thing I knew, Oliver was leaving messages for other pro-family leaders at the state and national levels. Some who weren't familiar with Merck's arm-twisting techniques I had witnessed when opposing the chicken pox vaccine mandate in Illinois shrugged off the request, saying they didn't really have a problem with it.
What most didn't understand is that this HPV vaccine mandate is part of a bigger problem -- a much bigger problem. A similar thing happened when Illinois decided to mandate chicken pox and Hepatitis B vaccines. Merck lobbied hard and proved to be very persuasive in the final decisions.
The American public cannot and should not be forced to help any drug company realize a good return on their R & D. It is their job to sell their products, not to force it on trusting souls who have been persuaded by a cooperative media that a health crisis must be diverted.
If this pattern is not stopped with this vaccine, it won't ever happen. The slope will have become too steep and slippery. There will be no place to stop, and we will have no choice but to force medication on our children and ourselves at the whim of any and all drug companies.
There's two industries in Illinois that only fools resist -- gambling and drug manufacturers. This post was a tough one for me to write, but it had to be said.
I hope this warning doesn't fall on deaf ears, and Illinois decides to follow Maryland's example by resisting the HPV pharmaceutical nightmare.