Sad News in Texas

May 11, 2007

Texas Governor Rick Perry's efforts to save the lives of young women has now been officially stopped by the Texas legislators. Perry offered his regret that the state legislators overturned his order to give the HPV vaccine to school-age girls:

[T]hey have sent me a bill that will ensure three-quarters of our young women will be susceptible to a virus that not only kills hundreds each year, but causes great discomfort and harm to thousands more. ... Instead of vaccinating close to 95 percent of our young women, and virtually eliminating the spread of the most common STD in America, they have relegated the lives of our young women to social Darwinism, where only those who can afford it or those who know about the virtues of it will get access to the HPV vaccine.
For more about this subject, check out my Ethics Daily column from February: The Religious Right is not Pro-Life.

8 comments

  1. I don't mean to be rude, but because of space limitations, I must be brief. I don't think you understand the Religious Right at all. You would be better off stating your opinion and reasoning that brought you to your own conclusions instead of attempting to illuminate the motivates and perceived contradictions of the RR.

    Within the RR community, there three different positions held by pro-lifers in regards to the death penalty and the Iraq War.

    1)Those that oppose both the death penalty and the Iraq War. The Catholic Church is the most obvious and vocal to these positions.

    2)Those that oppose the death penalty and are for the Iraq War.

    3) Those that are for the death penalty and are for the Iraq War.

    Since you perceive #3 as a contradiction, let me provide to you a brief explanation as to why some pro-lifers hold this position. This sub-group of pro-lifers believes in protecting innocent life like the un-born. Convicted murders and Saddam Hussein are/were not innocent, so there is no sympathy extended to them from this sub-group. I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments as to why this sub-group of pro-lifers believes this way. If not, then you should ask them why they believe this.

    Enough on that topic.

    With regards as to why the RR pro-life community as a whole is opposed to the forced HPV vaccination, you have also come to the wrong conclusion. You assume that there is a group-think on this issue like the death penalty and the Iraq War: you assumed it’s only for sexual purity. Again, you are wrong.

    The universal ideology from the Religious Right community is that parents, not government, should have the final say on their children’s medical treatment. The counter-argument from the RR on mandated vaccinations would be: if government is going to force what is good for us on us, then what is next? Will daily vitamins be the next thing that government will force on our children?

    I would also point to the following April 27th entry “Regarding Religious Liberty in Russia” on the blog “New Baptist Covenant” (http://newbaptistcovenant.blogspot.com/2007/04/regarding-religious-liberty-in-russia.html ). “ ... you have to allow the Russian people the freedom to choose their faith." President Clinton. Shouldn’t American citizens have that same freedom when it comes to their own daughters’ medical care? Or, do you still content that their daughters’ medical care be mandated by the state?

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  2. Kaylor,

    I'm not sure if you're from TX or not, but there might be something that you're missing. Most of Texas tends to be Southwestern, more so than Southern. Part of the identity is radical independence (which is really seen in West Texas). The last thing that a lot of us wants (yes, me included) is for any government to tell us that we "have to" do this or that, especially with our children.

    Also, something to know about Rick Perry. He's in the process of stealing a butt-load of land for his highway (yes, my parents land included). He is as crooked as they come. Don't think he's worried about saving young girls, as much as greatly benefitting one of his own benefactors: MERC... yes, the company that exclusively makes the vaccine. It's all about the $$$ with Rick Perry.

    Tim Dahl

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  3. Thanks for the comments. However, I am going to disagree with a few points.


    Frake: As far as you comments about position #3, the problem is not the issue of the life of Hussein (though I do not think we can too quickly dismiss even one life), but rather the bigger issue is the thousands of Americans who have been killed in the war and the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who have been killed. How can those deaths be a part of a pro-life policy?

    Your second argument is that the opposition to Governor Perry’s order may be based on a belief that the government should not dictate the medical treatment of children. However, if this were the case, why did not they not stop all the vaccinations? Since this is the only one they stopped, there must be something unique about it compared to all of the others. That leads us back to sex.


    Tim: I am not from Texas. For your first point, see my second point to Frake. As for your second point, I am not going to try and defend Perry’s ethics. I think he is right in this case (although his motives might not be completely pure). But regardless of why he did it, I firmly believe it was the correct decision.

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  4. Kaylor,

    Ok, read your response... I'm thinking...

    Tim

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  5. About Vaccines: I would love for vaccines to be voluntary. There seems to be this silence on the connections between vaccines and things such as Autism, for instance. I'm not so sure that they are all as wonderful as we think they are.

    How many of our mandated vaccines are out there because some politician was beholding to some drug company?

    Oh, you don't have to answer. I'm not even sure if I'll check this comment thread again, though I will read your blog more often since I found you. But, I really am for less government intrudance...including in the area of mandated medical care. My problem is the "mandated" part

    Tim

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  6. Tim: You make a very good point. The issue of drugs and vaccines is definitely worthy of continued examination. Thanks for the comments and for stopping by. I hope that what is written here (both by myself and others like yourself) will cause us all to stop and think.


    By the way, I found it interesting that yesterday First Lady Laura Bush came out in support of the HPV vaccine and today Lance Armstrong did as well.

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  7. First, thanks for your kind and courtesy response.

    Second, I only wanted to answer your question “how can someone that is pro-life be for the death penalty and pro-Iraq War but be opposed to life-saving vaccines?” It was not my intent to win you over (although that would be nice :-) ) but to explain what you perceive as a contradiction within the Religious Right pro-life community. So, my goal was clarification, not necessarily to win a debate. With that said, I would like to follow up these issues.

    As far as vaccines, I think Tim beat me to it. His response nearly mirrors what I was going to say. I would add that growing up in my home state of Minnesota, I believe the childhood vaccinations (like measles and mumps) were voluntary but the school could refuse the child entry if those were not completed. But, I might be remembering this wrong – they might have been mandatory. Again, I’m with Tim – I don’t like the government mandating my child’s health care. If there is a good reason to have the vaccine, then persuade me that it’s necessary.

    With regards to a pro-lifer being for the Iraq War, now that I understand where you are coming from, I admit that Saddam Hussein was a bad example to explain the justification of a war – that is only one person as compared to the thousands that died fighting that war. Let me take another shot at it. Again, I’m only seeking to clarify, not to win an argument.

    Let me take the question of Iraq War out of context and ask the bigger question: can a pro-lifer ever be pro-war?

    I think it is a given that any, and every, war will involve military causalities. And, regardless of how careful each side is, there will be unintended civilian causalities. So, if it is a given that there will be lots of death, how a can a pro-lifer be for any war? Let me answer that with a few questions: could the atrocities of WWII been lessened if Europe had acted sooner to stop Hitler? Would those atrocities have been greater, if Europe had acted later than 1939? I think the answers to these questions are obvious. So, to answer the original question: a pro-lifer can be pro-war because it is the lesser of two evils. War will sometimes result in less death and, by inference, the saving of more life.

    As regards to this present Iraq War, I think you will find pro-lifers on both sides: one group arguing that it is has resulted in the loss of more life and the other group arguing that having Saddam Hussein out of power has resulted in the saving of more lives. This is in essence the debate and reasoning from the pro-life side.

    I really enjoy a reasoned, thought-provoking argument.

    Thanks for your blog and your article.

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  8. Frake: Thanks for the comment and for sharing your perspective. I, too, have enjoyed the dialogue. There are definitely some difficult issues for Christians to consider when it comes to war and other questions related to life.

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