by Jill Stanek
Responding to a barrage of criticism for signing on executive order that will force adolescent girls to receive the HPV vaccine regimen, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is quoted in the Houston Chronicle today saying, "If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it claiming it would encourage smoking?"
I have thought of that analogy myself. It is perfect. Lung cancer is predominantly caused by cigarette smoking, which is currently a politically incorrect behavior. Chicago and Illinois lawmakers have increasingly sought to discourage this behavior by making it more difficult to carry out this behavior.
So to answer Perry's question, we would welcome a lung cancer vaccine but wouldn't turn around and say, "Great, let's all smoke!" Because we know smoking causes a myriad of other cancers as well as health problems like emphysema and hardening of the arteries. Furthermore, we know this behavior has secondary consequences of endangering the health of other people who come in contact with the smoker.
So when state Sen. Debbie Halvorson admitted she had HPV and worried others might get it, you would think she'd focus on her behavior that caused her to contract that sexually transmitted disease.
Halvorson would be most helpful by discussing the health consequences of pre- or extra-marital sex. Here are some potential topics:
- Halvorson could discuss the number of sex partners she has had throughout her lifetime and how each one increased the likelihood of contracting HPV.
- If Halvorson even had only one sex partner aside from her husband, she could discuss how one can contract HPV from a sole encounter.
- Halvorson could discuss whether she realized at the time her sex partner carried HPV, which most trusting, vulnerable women don't.
- Halvorson could disclose whether it was her husband who passed HPV on to her after sleeping with other women, demonstrating another reason for chaste behavior outside the marriage bedroom.
- More uncomfortably, if Halvorson contracted HPV through rape, she could discuss ways to avoid rape.
But no, Halvorson does not advocate avoiding a risky behavior that leads not only to HPV but to 20+ other STDs and their strains, along with unplanned pregnancy. Halvorson merely advocates trying to avoid the consequences of risky behavior. Shame on her.