The Stupidity of the HPV Controversy

Take a look at this website. It details the various vaccines that Texas school kids have to get during the course of their time in Texas public schools. Like every other state in the nation, the state of Texas requires that kids get and maintain certain vaccinations against a variety of diseases.

A few years back, Gov. Perry issued an executive order mandating that girls in Texas schools get vaccinated against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer. There was an opt-out for parents, as there is for other vaccinations.

The decision was controversial, and was eventually overturned by the Texas legislature. Gov. Perry has said repeatedly that the way he handled the issue was a mistake.

But check out Rep. Michele Bachmann's statement on the Gardasil controversy, sent around last night after the GOP debate.

Dear Fellow Conservative,

I'm offended.

If you watched tonight's Republican debate, you saw Rick Perry defend his decision to mandate a vaccine for young girls through an executive order while he was governor of Texas. As a mother, I have raised three biological daughters and 23 foster daughters, and I believe taking away a parents right to direct the health care of their children is flat out wrong . It’s a violation of liberty and everything you and I stand for.

Tonight, I also questioned why Governor Perry made this executive order. When you look at the facts, the question becomes, is this about life or is this about millions and potentially billions for the drug company?

We cannot forget that in the midst of the executive order, a big drug company made millions of dollars because of this mandate. This drug company's PAC made thousands of dollars in political donations to Governor Perry, and his own former Chief of Staff was working as the lobbyist for this drug company when he issued the mandate. This is flat out wrong.

Governor Perry says if given the option again he would not issue the mandate. However, as President of the United States there are no mulligans; there are no do-overs.

I am also concerned that Governor Perry also supports giving subsidies to illegal immigrants. The American way is not to give taxpayer-subsidized benefits to people who have broken the law and are here illegally. That is not the American way.

I believe it is going to take a strong constitutional conservative to defeat Barack Obama. Our constitutional conservative values must guide our actions for solving America’s challenges. And if these values are not represented in the White House, we are in for four more years of the same policies that have led our country in the wrong direction.

Our nation's challenges are have reached a critical point. And we cannot risk electing a Republican nominee to face Barack Obama who doesn't get it right the first time. The stakes are too high. The current polling of Republican voters show we are endanger of sending a candidate who does not adhere to our shared values to face Barack Obama in the general election. There are a number of candidates who say they are “members of the Tea Party,” but their records of policy and action do not reflect Tea Party values.

As conservatives, it is our charge to make Barack Obama a one-term President. I know that I am the only candidate in this race who can not only defeat Barack Obama, but who will adhere to constitutional conservative values as President.

I need to know you stand with me today, and ask that you make a special emergency donation of $25, $50, $100 or more.

We need to defeat Barack Obama, and you can help me do this by joining my campaign right now with a generous contribution. My opponents are raising money hand-over-fist from donors with deep pockets. My campaign relies on the generosity of you- everyday men and women- to fund my campaign with small donations.

Your support is needed now more than ever if we are going to win this fight. Thank you for your generosity and God bless you and your family.

Sincerely,

Michele Bachmann

P.S. If we don’t join together and take action, we risk allowing a candidate who does not represent our values to go up against Barack Obama in the general election. Please take action today by following this link to make a generous contribution of any amount to help our campaign take on our opponents. Thank you.

How did Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil, "make millions" off a policy that wasn't enacted? And why does Bachmann object to the government needle being used to fight HPV, but not the flu? Or hepatitis?

Obviously, the answer to that is because HPV is seen as a sexually transmitted disease. But it's one that can be vaccinated against. And according to the CDC, Gardasil has no major side effects.

The charge of crony capitalism Bachmann makes above, because Perry's chief of staff was also a lobbyist for Merck, strikes me as reasonable. Wrong on the facts, but at least within the realm of possibility and fair politics. But the charge that the Gardasil decision took "away a parents [sic] right to direct the health care of their children" is ridiculous. It didn't do that. It was a specific vaccination, one among several required by the state. There was a parental opt-out. And the policy was never implemented. Democracy in Texas worked as it should.

It's obviously fair and expected for all of the GOP candidates to criticize each other's actions and records. That's part of the primary process and should help voters decide who the best candidate is. But the hysteria Bachmann is displaying over Gardasail borders on being paranoid. She is sounding like a prudish Luddite.

Update: This is ridiculous. Absent any solid evidence, which she doesn't provide, Bachmann is becoming the junk science candidate.

Update: Jim Geraghty has a reasonable take on the controversy.