Cross posted from The Soccer Mom Vote
By the time I was a 28-year-old, third-year law student, I had been dutifully getting my yearly Pap tests and GYN exams like a good girl for well over a decade.
And every year, the Pap results came back negative. I annually congratulated myself for getting to the doctor’s office for the exam, even though I would rather have been doing my least favorite thing — reviewing my Federal Income Tax outline — than facing the stirrups.
Sitting at my groovy, second-hand formica kitchen table in my tiny law student apartment, I was opening my mail when I came across the letter from the doctor’s office. Assuming it was good news, as usual, I casually opened it and read its contents.
I couldn’t focus. I started to hyperventilate. I had to read it more than once to fathom the news — Stage 2 irregularities. Come in right away for additional testing.
Possible cervical cancer? At 28? When there had only been one person I had been with for the past four years?
Fortunately, there was no cancer, just “suspicious” cells that were dispatched as quickly as possible, hopefully never to return. But I have been reliving those terrifying moments a lot in the last few weeks, as there has been a major uproar by some over whether girls should be required to get a new vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer.
Thar’s right. PREVENT. CANCER.
For me, after that horrible scare that led to treatment and, I believe, issues that treatment may have caused with my fertility, I can’t believe there is anyone who would make a political cause out of trying to prohibit girls from receiving a vaccine that could spare them the scare of cancer.
But there are.
Certain vocal politicos want to make this an issue not about health and protecting lives, but about supposed morals and premarital sex, and oppose the use of the vaccine. Opponents claim that if we let young girls have a vaccine that would prevent the majority of cervical cancers, that will lead to increased teen promiscuity. As a result of this flawed logic, the Governor of Texas, and others, are coming under fire for ordering, or even considering, that all girls of a certain age receive the vaccine as a health issue.
The vaccine is recommended for girls ages 9 through 12 in order to give their immune systems a chance to develop the highest levels of antibodies needed before adulthood to fight off the virus that causes cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women — second only to breast cancer.
So here is my question — if this vaccine prevented breast cancer, would there be any opposition?
It’s hard for someone who survived a bad scare many years ago, and who still must be vigilant just in case they didn’t get all those “abnormal” cells, to fathom how anyone could want to make an anti-cancer vaccine a political issue and not one about health and saving lives.
If there was a vaccine that was available today to prevent breast cancer or lung cancer or even prostate cancer, would there be the conservative outcry we’re hearing about a cervical cancer vaccine?
I think not.
I believe it’s safe to say there would be no opposition — everyone would be on board and there would be huge celebrations across the planet about such a miraculous medical breakthrough. But a handful of people are trying to make us believe that by protecting our daughters from most kinds of cervical cancer, which is caused by a sexually transmitted virus, that we are handing them a Get Out of Jail Free card in terms of their sexuality. That, in essence, parental approval of the vaccine equals telling our daughters it’s OK to be sexually active in your teens because you won’t have to worry about getting HPV.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a stretch to me.