Monday, February 05, 2007

I've Just Got to Address This

I wasn't going to talk about this on the blog, but I just can't let it go. Especially when it was front page news today in our local paper. I might end up suprising some of you on my viewpoint, but I'm really hoping my views don't offend anyone.

Lately, the HPV Vaccine has been making the news. For those of you who don't know what it is, a vaccine has been created to prevent one of the most common STD's, HPV or Human Papillomavirus. Otherwise knows as (ick!) genital warts. The vaccine is not effective against all strains, however it is said to prevent 70% of cervical cancer cases, as cervical cancer is almost always caused by HPV. Recently, Texas has signed a bill to make the vaccine mandatory (you may opt out for religous or philosiphical reasons) for middle school girls. The idea there is that in order for the vaccine to be most effective, it must be administered prior to sexual activity. I'm not going to address this mandatory issue - personally, I do believe the whole thing should be a parent's choice. What I am going to address is the conservative (Christian) groups have "group-opposed" the whole idea of the vaccine. According to today's paper, some of them suggest that by giving your daughter this vaccine, you are opposing abstinence and promoting promiscuity.

I had the opportunity to teach health education when I was a middle school teacher, with about a month or so dedicated to sex education. One of the most profound things I think I ever had the opportunity to impart upon students was the story that I was able to share with those students about a friend of mine who went through an awful experience with this very STD. She had made the choice to stay "pure" until marriage, but when the time came for God to reveal the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, it was revealed, that, much to his regret, he hadn't made that same choice. Of course, that didn't prevent them from getting married, and life was good. However, a year into their marriage, she discovered an abnormal growth and went to her doctor about it. Sure enough, HPV was the diagnosis. You see, with this disease, it can lie dormant for years - and is rarely ever detectable on a man. She, sadly, had to pay the price for his choices - and, according to her, the treatment was gory and disgusting. While she's never, to this day, had an abnormal pap smear, she lives with the knowledge that it could again rear its ugly head at any time, it's never cured. The kids that I shared this story with were hit hard - I think the girls were disgusted with the revelation of what's needed to treat this thing, and the boys were effected with the idea that they could give such an awful "gift" to their precious brides without even knowing it.

Some numbers for thought - of the 26 most common STD's, women deal with the consequences of all 26 of them. Men deal with the consequences of only 3 of them - but obviously they are carriers to all of them. Here's another thought, based on a sampling of 7 friends of mine within a certain social group - all what I would consider "conservative Christians". Of those 7 women, I believe all but one waited for sex until marriage. Of their 7 husbands, all but perhaps 1 of them DID have sex before marriage. I don't think these statistics are that off base. So, here's my point - even if a girl does everything within her control to remain "pure", what will she be walking into when she gets married? And, let's face it, the hopeful idea of saving for equally pure mates - while I think that's admirable, I'm just not so sure in this day and age it's that reasonable to consider -especially in light of the rise of "oral encounters" (that girls often partake in with the assumption that they won't get pregnant and this still ensures their virginity) that spread this STD just as much as the "conventional methods" - I think it's time to be honest with ourselves.

For anyone who's ever had an abnormal pap smear - I think that's the last thing you'd ever want to have your daughter go through. And, I'm sure the same can be said for this nasty virus itself.

So, am I saying that we should all take our daughters in at the age of 12 and get these shots? Not necessarily. Honestly, it creeps me out to consider doing that with Mikayla. Way too much reality to think about right now. Also, there are a lot of people out there who have very legitimate concerns with vaccines in general. I totally get that.

What I am saying, is that I don't think it's right that a certain group of people have the right to make me as a Christian, moral, conservative parent feel guilty if I were to choose this option for my daughter. I hope the man she marries is the man of her dreams and brings nothing into their marriage that could ever harm her. I hope that she never gets caught up in the heat of the moment to sacrifice serious decisions and commitments she's made for her own life. I hope the man that she marries is the only husband she'll ever have, and won't ever have to have worries again if she were to lose her first husband and be "on the market agian". I hope she'll never be assaulted or forced to do something against her will. Yes, I hope and PRAY for all of these things. But, we're any of these to actually occur, I hope that the reason that she would NOT be protected would not be a result of MY pride, or my lack of belief in her that if if she were to have this vaccine she would automatically be promiscuous.

HEAVY thoughts, huh? I'm glad I got them off of my chest, though. Hopefully all of my references to these "intimate acts" didn't make you squeemish - and hopefully won't get me red-flagged for illicit comments!


LiteraryGirl said...

Interesting perspective. I think I would pass on the vaccine not based on the morality issue but on the newness of the vaccine itself. I guess I am also coming from a different perspective...while I agree that it seems more women stay "pure" until marriage, I'm coming from a perspective where STD's are not an issue or concern for me in my relationship. I think since the vaccine is recommended through age 26 I would leave the decision up to her. I don't know...she's 4. Ask me in 10 years.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you - knee-jerk reactions to very complicated issues start to go into Pharisee-land in my eyes, where the world is black or white and Christians put up that facade of perfection that is impossible to achieve, and sins are hidden, and non-Christians eventually expose us as the hypocrites we are. I'm scared to death of the whole idea of my daughters possibly needing that kind of protection, but playing ostrich is not the answer! Great post!

HollieHobbie said...

I am basing my opinion on not knowing too much info on this issue and my feelings of the gvt. being too involved in a person's life.
I opted out of the rotovirus vaccine because it was too new in '98: it was taken off the mkt. a year later. I have opted out of the chicken pox vaccine because I feel it is still too new, so in four years when my oldest will be "ready" for the vaccine I will probably opt out of ir because of the newness of it.
But if it is recommended through age 26, then I will let her make the decision based on research that we can do together.
Again, I do not know much about this vaccine at all, but to make it mandatory is just another way for the gvt. to step in with their opinions and take away our rights to make decisions for ourselves.
Am I naiave to think that "oh my daughter won't do that" absolutely not and it cracks me up when people do have that mindset. I will teach abstinence and pray that my children search out those who have been taught and adhere to the same, but not think that they will do as I say, therefore, not needing to talk to them about all the facets of sex education.
On a lighter note: I so wish I could've been a fly on the wall when you were teaching sex ed! I think I would even blush teaching that to a group of middle schoolers.