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Backlash against the backlash

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2007

I’ve kept this issue confined to subscriber-only blog posts because it’s a legislative issue and I felt that the debate has been so distasteful, but now that the mainstream press has picked up on it, we might as well get it out in the open here.

Legislation to vaccinate pre-teen girls against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer has sparked a heated debate at the Illinois Statehouse.

The discussion has even moved to the point where one opponent of the legislation has publicly called on a sponsor to reveal her sexual history.

At issue is the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the primary cause of cervical cancer in females. A new vaccine, Gardasil, has been shown to protect against HPV strains that cause 70 percent of the cancer cases. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended vaccinations for 11- and 12-year-old girls - before they are likely to become sexually active.

An Illinois House bill would require girls to be vaccinated before they enter sixth grade beginning in 2008-09 unless their parents formally opt out. A similar Senate bill would have schools provide information about HPV and cervical cancer to 11- and 12-year-old girls beginning this fall and then would require immunizations - again, unless parents decide against them - in 2009.

As the New York Times notes, the manufacture of the vaccine, Merck, is making a national state-by-state push to require the shots, adding…

And in Illinois, a bill introduced by a legislator who had the virus the vaccine is intended to prevent prompted a conservative group’s blog to speculate that she had been promiscuous.

“I’m offended by their ignorance, but if I have to take a hit to educate people, I’m willing to do it,” said the bill’s sponsor, Debbie Halvorson, the Democratic majority leader in the Illinois Senate.

Ms. Halvorson is also a director of Women in Government, a national association of state legislators that has embraced the fight against cervical cancer and has received funding from Merck. The group has posted model mandatory vaccination legislation on its Web site, The rush for mandatory inoculation — most of the state proposals have been introduced since the beginning of the year — is unusual. It was only last June that federal regulators approved the vaccine, called Gardasil.

Jill Stanek has taken the lead among the conservative Right in opposing the bill. One of her first posts on the legislation was a doozy

…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. […]

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.

I left out some very pointed, very personal even weird “questions” that Stanek demanded answers for. Read it yourself if you want.

Stanek’s reaction has overshadowed the legislation itself. Here’s a recent column from Kristen McQueary, who notes that she would oppose the Halvorson bill if she were in the General Assembly…

For someone with a well-worn barometer for political mean-spiritedness, I was stunned by an online diatribe hurled at state Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete) from a fellow Southlander. […]

Stanek demanded that Halvorson disclose “whether it was her husband who passed HPV on to her after sleeping with other women” or how, exactly, the Senate majority leader believes she contracted the virus. […]

Stanek’s vitriol does nothing to further her cause. In fact, her shark mentality often hurts the very issues for which she so desperately crusades. Even those in her small circle of flag-wavers cringed at her remarks.

I’ve always liked Jill, but her remarks crossed the line of decency and could backfire. The legislation could pass just because of the tactics used against it. This slash and burn stuff might work in the national media (although its influence seems to be fading fast), but people here are a bit more reasonable than the DC gasbags.

Anyway, discuss below.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - He Makes Ryan look like a saint - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 9:39 am:

    This is good legislation, They crowd that preaches that we should teach abstainence is just crazy. Look at the stats, KIDS ARE HAVING SEX YOUNGER AND YOUNGER. The abstainence talk is not working people. This may prevent them from a serious illness.

  2. - oechmd - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 9:49 am:

    It looks like it is a good vaccine. However why should the state mandate it? That is a parental decision. The state mandates other vaccines because without them the public at large is at risk. There is no public risk here, so the state should stay out of it. Merck funding the legislative efforts makes it even more distasteful.

  3. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 9:58 am:

    oechmd, If you read the article, you would note that parents have the right to opt out so I don’t see why it wouldn’t qualify as a parental decision. Cervical cancer is a big deal and this vaccine is a wonder of modern medicine. Even with my normal distrust of big pharma, I want every girl in the state to at least have access to this vaccine.

  4. - Archpundit - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 9:59 am:

    While I’m not sold on it being mandatory the thought behind it is that by doing so insurers are required to cover the vaccine. The process of opting out is a simple signed statement by the parent or guardian.

    The one question I have is why wouldn’t a mandate for insurance to cover it provide the same benefit (minus the education aspect)

  5. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 9:59 am:

    And yes, Jill so turned me off by her diatribe that I will never, ever even consider reading or listening to another one of her screeds ever. It wasn’t just over the line it was atrocious.

  6. - oechmd - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:06 am:

    I don’t agree with the opt out approach. Opt out says the government forces you to do unless you say no. I think opt in is appropriate.
    And yes, the diatribe was stupid. It removes the possibility of any rational discussion of the issue.

  7. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:09 am:

    I have no problem mandating it as long as there is a formal opt-out provision and as long as the risks are clearly explained to parents. And all new vaccines carry some uncertainties as they go out to the general population.

    There should also be a provision for ongoing notification via media of any new information regarding negative side effects, particularly as they relate to specific sub-populations, so that parents always have updated risk information when making the decision.

  8. - oechmd - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:14 am:

    Anybody want to answer my question? Why mandate a vaccine for the masses when there is no public health threat? Because you think it’s good medicine I suppose?

  9. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:16 am:

    I am not sure why you’ve always liked Jill, Rich.

    This work was typical of her. She is always making outrageous statements and wild accusations [such as claiming that Gov. Blago was in favor of child predators because of his position on parental notification laws]. She does more harm that good to her cause.

    If you see merit in her work, I would appreciate it if you could point it out. The anti-abortion people need a strong voice in Illinois, but she is the worst possible person for that role.

  10. - Frank - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:20 am:

    How come we get labeled, “Anti-Abortion people” opposed to ‘Pro-Life People’? Why don’t the libs get labeled ‘Anti-Life People’?

  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:23 am:

    Frank, let’s stick with the topic at hand, please. A debate over the PC rhetoric demands of both sides can wait for another day.

  12. - Robbie - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:27 am:

    Make it required. To counter the point above that it shouldn’t be required because it is not a public health risk is logical but not valid. I believe we should take the same approach as seat belts. The decrease in cancer could help keep medical costs down. And if you don’t like it, join me in my anti seat belt crusade! But seriously, why would any parent or child not want this? From what I have read about the vaccine, there is no real downside. Yet the awesomely stupid conservatives think that it will make kids want to go be slutty.

  13. - NW burbs - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:36 am:

    Ms. Stanek’s screaching vitriol revealed, yet again, the conservatives’ bizarre obsession with sex. I wonder how willing the Ill Review crowd would be to answer Ms. Stanek’s questions for themselves. GOP front-runners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have already revealed they are too promiscuous for Ms. Stanek’s tastes.

    The entire point to her diatribes (and that’s a much-too-pleasant word for her multiple “Debbie Does…” posts) was that Ms. Stanek was upset because she believed Sen. Halvorsen’s proposal did not provide enough educational aspects. Essentially, she wants every 11-year-old girl to be taught that HPV is an STD so if they don’t have sex they won’t get it (which isn’t 100% true — it is communicated through other means but far be it from Nurse Stanek to mention this).

    Fair enough if chastity belts were still in style.

    The facts of the matter are this vaccine will not promote promiscuity any more than the polio vaccine does. Further, the average age virginity is lost in this country is 16, 95% of Americans have pre-marital sex, and the average teen loses their viriginity at home (or their boy-/girlfriend’s home), usually while their parents are in another room. These are all facts you can look up and verify. Ms. Stanek chooses to ignore them in order to ask whether or not Sen. Halvorsen was raped and what she would recommend to avoid rape.

    Ms. Stanek (and her compatriot in confusion, Ms. Eaton) have a long way to go to move that virginity age up and that pre-marital sex statistic down. A long way.

    Instead, they choose to spew acid in an attempt to change the conversation from vaccines to sex.

    It seems Ms. Stanek won’t be happy til no one is having sex unless they are virgins on their wedding night. She’s obsessed with anyone — anyone — who doesn’t fit that conservative mold and is willing to combat legislation that opposes her version of reality and to enact any legislation that helps promote a nanny-state, chastity-belt mentality.

    The Middle Ages are over, yet some just can’t let go. Referencing this malarkey in the media only serves to encourage more of the same — as Ms. Eaton clearly alluded in a later Ill Review post.

  14. - Some Guy - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:38 am:

    About the public health risk question asked above.

    It may not be a public health risk, but it would lead to health care costs, which would work its way back to the citizenry. I don’t mean to say that the costs of this cancer would be substantial enough to notice (at best a drop in the bucket from the POV of today’s health costs), but it would likely be more costly than the price of enacting and enforcing this legislation.

    - Sickness, especially a serious illness, can impact worker productivity, more sick days, and so forth.

    - And yeah, the good medicine thing mentioned also would make some support it.

  15. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:59 am:

    I asked these questions earlier at the Archpundit blog:

    Is anyone else troubled by the implicit assumption underlying Fran and Jill’s position — that children would give in to wild sexual desires but for the threat of disease? What leads one to such a bizarre view of human sexuality, i.e. that it is overpowering and can only be bridled by the threat of sickness or death?

    Freud believed that humans were driven by two conflicting central desires: Eros (the life drive, incorporating the sexual drives) and Thanatos (the death instinct). Freud’s description of Eros included all creative, life-producing drives. The Thanatos death instinct represented an urge inherent in all living things to return to a state of calm, or, ultimately, of non-existence.

    If I were a Freudian, I would be tempted to diagnose Jill and Fran as siding with Thanatos against Eros. But as we all know, Freudians are all just perverts.

    – SCAM

  16. - ANON - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    This should be a parent’s choice, especially if it is iven as early as 6th grade. But, it will not increase or decrease promiscuity among teens. I work in this arena, and I will tell you that STD’s are not on the minds of teens. This will be like an angel on their shoulder, preventing the HPV without the young girl even knowing it. It’s a good idea, but should never be mistaken for a parent’s counsel, nor a free pass at unprotected sex.

  17. - dan l - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:03 am:

    To be honest:

    The fact that there is even a debate on the HPV vaccine makes me embarrassed to be a republican. It seems that in the screechitude against the virus, it is lost that we’re actually talking about a way to stop people from getting cancer, a cancer which can result in death.

    To answer the trollesque question by oechmd:

    Because it’s the right thing to do.

    But on to the Stanek column. There was a time I would listen to feminist friends talk about ‘victim blaming’ and ’slut shaming’ and sort of chuckle. I had never noticed it before and some of their examples I saw as being complete works of fantasy. I never understood it. Probably, because I’m not a feminist.

    But when I read Jill Stanek’s column I got it. It is easily the most bald faced example of ’slut shaming’ I can think of. Here you have the self-proclaimed chaste Jill Stanek, upon finding out that someone has an STD, to ask her to hold that up to the light and ask bizarre questions about how it came to be. For lack of a better way to explain it, she’s badgering another woman to admit to her personal bedroom behaviors so she can be mind stoned by the observers. It’s nothing more than a personal public call out to admit to sin, so you can accept your punishment - dressed up to look like a political point.

    The political point (or whatever is passing as such) made is: Halvorson is sexually experienced, thus is a non-woman or non-chaste, thus is a non-person, thus not worth listening to.

    I haven’t even really told you what the real trick here is. Take Jill’s name off that article and put “Peter Labarbara” or “J. Matt Barber” in it’s place, and we wouldn’t even be able to cut through the hate enough to seriously discuss it. But because Jill is a woman she can operate on the patriarchy dog whistle without challenge. In other words, take Stanley Crouch’s “Obama isn’t black like me piece” replace Crouch with a white guy from Manhattan and change the title to “Obama isn’t black like the black people I know” and you’ve got a racist hit piece. Keep it in Crouch’s name and it’s “reflective” and “thoughtful”.

  18. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    The interesting thing about this is that Stanek and Eaton would probably oppose an AIDS vaccination for the same reasons as they oppose this one.

    After all, we can be pretty confident that our blood supply is safe. As a result, the only way to get AIDS is by sex or drugs. Given the “logic” of Stanek and Eaton, it is pretty clear that as such, they would oppose such a vaccine.

    As I said — those two do more harm than good.

  19. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:15 am:

    While we are talking with our daughter about the benefits of the vaccine, it should not be state mandated, even with an opt-out provision. Parents and girls should be educated about the vaccine and then decide for themselves if they wish to participate.

    The state has no compelling interest in this case, not even in the cost of health care.

    As for the political speech: It is abhorrent and Stanek should be ashamed.

  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:18 am:

    The rest thing that can be done in response to Stanek’s rants is to ignore them and to let her burrow her way into irrelevance and isolation - shouldn’t take much longer.

    It takes a lot for an extremist to alienate other extremists, but she seems to have found a way to do it.

  21. - dan l - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:19 am:

    Why on earth a parent would opt out of a vaccination designed to keep their daughter from getting HPV, is beyond me?

    But want to opt out? So be it. God forbid she ever needs surgery, we can have a parental opt out for anesthesia too.

  22. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:43 am:

    I don’t plan on visiting a third world country BUT I had to get a smallpox vaccination when I was a young child (I know, I’m telling my age here because they don’t give a smallpox vac. anymore). Polio, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, and mumps are preventable with a vaccine. Why in the world would a parent NOT want their daughter to receive a vaccine for a cancer than can kill her. Other childhood illnesses can leave their mark on you but folks, if cervical cancer is not caught in time, YOU CAN DIE. Good luck getting health, life and nursing home insurance if you have been treated for cervical cancer and kiss off forever being able to donate blood. No one likes change but we have to admit that our children are having sex at younger and younger ages. This is a no brainer for me. If I have a daughter, she gets the vaccine. I don’t agree with Blago often at all, as Bill and Rich can attest to. However, Illinois is right on the mark on this one. And we won’t be the last state to attempt to enact this as a law.

  23. - RMW Stanford - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:44 am:

    I oppose the vaccine being mandatory on the principle of personal choice and that I think this is less matter of personal health, than a company trying to get captive market for a product that they will have a monopoly on for awhile. Diatribe and questions from Jill Stanek are way out of line and she should be ashamed of herself. I doubt that the vaccine would lead to any increase in pre-martial sex or transmission of other STD’s.

  24. - dan l - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:50 am:

    I doubt that the vaccine would lead to any increase in pre-martial sex or transmission of other STD’s.

    Probably because it’s hard to go up from 97%.

  25. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:55 am:

    Does Stanek have any idea how she makes conservatives appear to voters? Voters will not positively respond to statements like hers.

    There are real reasons to not allowing Merck to set our health policies. So they invested millions for this vaccine - that was their call, not ours. Had they done their homework, they would have understood how much to invest regarding this virus and what the market would support. The fact that they blew it should not allow them to use their backroom deals to get all of us to pay for it. Waving the cancer flag is distasteful.

    Mandating a vaccine that could prevent 70% of a virus that could develop into cancer if girls catch this virus due to sex seems preposterous.

    Stanek needs to return to her cage. If she is interested in helping, she needs to shut her trap and let the professionals speak. She turns off more voters every time she bloviates, and makes the anti-mandatory vaccine group appear nutty. Her smear against Halvorson is inexcusable. We will all lose when political dialog drops to that level. Shut up Jill!

  26. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 12:58 pm:

    Actually, Stanek does a real service to moderates and Dems. She is the easy-to-point to poster child for showing that the right wing of the R party is nuts and scary.

    That’s a shame, because we have a lot of very thoughtful, competent and very conservative Republicans in our party, who are far, far from being either nuts or scary. But, the right wing keeps giving Dems straw dogs to hold up and say “you surely don’t want these crazy people running anything, do you?”, and moderates of all political persuasions agree and vote accordingly.

    If you remember, the Dems had the same problem in the 70s with their radical left wing.

  27. - leigh - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 12:58 pm:

    The vaccine has been around less than a year. What are the long term side affects? Why is it any of the governments business whether or not I get my daughter vaccinated? This is not measles or chicken pox. This is an STD. There is only one way it gets transferred. It should just be left between a doctor and parents. Why the big push for this when the Spinal Menagitis vaccine is not mandatory? Didn’t the right drug companies give the right legislators money?

  28. - jerry - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 1:08 pm:

    If you’ve been following the whole HPV vaccine, you’d know that Stanek’s ilk fought long and hard to prevent the vaccine from even being legalized in the States. The people who think like her didn’t even want women to have the option to get the vaccine. For the same reasons that Stanek now cites. Promiscuity, punishment, etc. Sick, sick, sick people.

  29. - Frank Booth - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 1:22 pm:

    I’m fine with the opt out. But anyone who opts out and their child later gets cervical cancer should have to pay all their own medical bills and not be eligible for any state subsidized coverage of the condition.
    Either that or an opt-out tax to bankroll cervical cancer research.
    Seems like a fair swap.

  30. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 2:31 pm:

    Frank Booth,
    While that is tempting, I think a lifetime of regret that they could have prevented their daughter’s cancer but didn’t, is enough.

  31. - Boone Logan Square - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 2:46 pm:

    I like women. I would be in favor of any proposal that has a reasonable chance of keeping women healthy. This proposal sounds reasonable to me.

  32. - leigh - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 2:50 pm:

    Who is paying the $360 the additional three shots will cost? If the state wants to pay for it and let the parents choose then I say go for it.

  33. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 3:00 pm:

    Apparently, Rich Miller now has his lemmings. If Rich wanted to form a fan club, that would be a great name: “Rich Miller’s Lemmings”.

    Jill’s comment to a post commenting on her article:

    “Dear John, aka Rich Miller lemming: If you can truly think for yourself, tell me what good points I could have made and tell me exactly what was my idiotic rant - my words, not your paraphrase or interpretation.

    Posted by: Jill Stanek | Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 02:09 PM”

  34. - Mr Wizard - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 3:21 pm:

    What may be needed here is a little perspective. This product is effective against a small number of the 100 HPV’s (most of which disappear on their own). Only some of these HPV’s result in cervical cancer, apparently. According to the CDC, the incidence of cervical cancer among American women is less than 9 per 100,000 people. So, this product is aimed at girls who _might_ eventually be in a tiny subset of this small population.

  35. - anon and amused - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 3:54 pm:

    I didn’t have sex as a teen, but I sure wish this vaccination had been available then. If it had been, though, I’m sure my parents would not have wanted me have it. I have HPV now, apparently contracted during the course of my marriage. I’m not alone–most women contract HPV at some point in their lives. I haven’t developed cervical cancer, but it’s always a worry in the back of my mind. Why not let these younger women worry a little less?

  36. - i d - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 4:12 pm:

    I think that if this is mandated, it must be covered by insurance or given at county health departments for a minimum fee. However, with Merck being the manufacturer and the way they hid negative information on Vioxx, I’m uncertain of their credibility on safety issues. Is it safe? Is this way over priced? Is this part of a political payoff for sponsors of the laws???

  37. - Old Elephant - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 5:03 pm:

    I’m a Republican, a conservative and a parent. My daughters have already had the vaccination (voluntarily covered by insurance — with no need for a state mandate). I don’t think it will impact their morality to be vaccinated against a potentially deadly disease.

    Still, I wonder why we have to immediately inject the state into this. Insurers are covering the vaccination and can’t we trust parents to make an informed decision without rushing to demand that the state intervene?

    The same people who are pushing the state mandate are the ones who criticize the drug companies for advertising their products on television — all based on the assumption that consumers are too stupid to make decisions for themselves. Drop the mandate and you can bet the manufacturer will start marketing the product on their own.

    Once again, politicians are working today to find solutions tomorrow for yesterday’s problems.

  38. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 5:08 pm:

    Breaking News:
    Apparently Merck has backtracked and is pulling out of its state lobbying campaigns for Gardasil. Sources: CNBC quoting WSJ online.

    That notwithstanding, I agree that Jill went way over the line and needs to get back under the rock.

    To the proposal, as the father of two young girls who would almost immediately be affected, I want more research from more, independent sources before I want the State mandating any more medical treatments for my children. Merck and Vioxx=Exhibit A.

  39. - jaundiced eye - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 5:25 pm:

    NY Times website has just posted a story saying Merck is backing off on this “initiative,” based on public reaction to their hamhanded lobbying, etc.

  40. - Concerned Voter - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 5:38 pm:

    “leigh - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 2:50 pm: Who is paying the $360 the additional three shots will cost? If the state wants to pay for it and let the parents choose then I say go for it.”

    Please, no more state mandates that they can’t pay for, they can’t even fund education, pensions, late on allkids payments, etc.

  41. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 6:25 pm:

    Over and over the drug companies have come out with the miracle cures. Only to find out later the cure was worse than the disease. The government needs to stay out of our lives. If I want my daughter to have the shot that will be my decision and not the government.
    Years ago I was told a drug was safe for menopause. I ended up with breast cancer due to that drug. So I don’t believe I’ll let some drug company or some government official who is probably making some kind of kickback to push this drug on my young and healthy daughter. Think again.

  42. - Bubs - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 6:30 pm:

    If Stanek wants publication of the purient details of Sen. Halvorson’s sex life, let Stanek publish her own details first.

  43. - anon - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 6:56 pm:

    1) My cousin, who chose to wait until marriage for sex, contracted HPV from her husband - apparently from his adventures prior to their meeting. She has now had several painful removals of portions of her cervix due to pre-cancerous conditions. The next time will mean it is time for a hysterectomy.
    2) Hepatitis is a disease often contracted by sexual contact. We have a vaccine (not cheap) that is now mandated. Is that because men and women can contract the disease?
    3) I would, however, like to see a longer period of testing before the vaccine is mandated. In light of all the recent drug etc. recalls this is only common sense.

  44. - anon - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 8:34 pm:

    old elephant - what about the children who are uninsured?! just because your insurance covered your daughters, it doesn’t mean everyone has insurance. part of the reason for the mandate is to ensure that children who aren’t insured can still get the vaccine.

    mr wizard - perspective?! even if its only 9 out of 100,000, thats 9 more than is necessary with this vaccine. and that’s 9 out of 100,000 people. of those 100,000, 52,000 are women. so that’s 9 out of 52,000.

    Its a preventable form of cancer. If there were a vaccine against prostate cancer, wouldn’t you want that? The victims of HPV-related cervical cancer aren’t statistics, they are people. They might be your daughter someday.

  45. - NoGiftsPlease - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 8:47 pm:

    Genital warts (the common name for this disease) is contracted by both men and women. Both sexes carry and spread the illness. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is only requiring girls to get it. The disease has consequences for boys, too.

  46. - OneMan - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 8:58 pm:


    I can answer part of that for you…

    What she could have said

    “You know, lifestyle choices have an impact on this illness, not only your lifestyle choices but the choices made by others in your life. Choices they may have made long before they ever entered your life. No vaccine can ever completely eliminate the risks. That for all of the implications of sex outside of marriage, that making the decision to refrain is still the best path for a whole host of reasons, not just the prevention of HPV and it’s side effects”


  47. - Frank Booth - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 9:32 pm:

    Just imagine the sea change in government if Merck gets this passed WITHOUT spending millions on lobbying lawmakers. You mean an issue might rise and fall on its actual merits? Nooooooo, nooooooooo. What will the lobbyists do? They can’t do an honest day’s work. You can’t ask a skunk to change it’s stripes (or something like that).
    Dear God the world will end. The Springfield economy will be in shambles. The SOS Index division won’t have anything to do.
    What next? Mushrooms demanding time to read the budget if not be involved in the talks?
    This is bad. Really bad.
    Even worse, Jill Stanek would be the reason why lobbying dies in America. The goo-goos would probably make her birthday a state holiday and all the public schools would have to stop passing out condoms for a day to send the kids home.

  48. - 'Lainer - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 10:00 pm:

    One Man said it best when it comes to the lifestyle issues. I have no quarrel with the principle of vaccinating against HPV, and I do not mind if it is made available. But why the headlong rush to mandate it, without time to adequately gauge its long term effects? Did you know that until fairly recently, some vaccines contained trace amounts of mercury as a preservative? That has since been removed out of concern it might be linked to autism and other developmental disorders (although that’s never been proven).
    I can see the urgency in mandating vaccination against highly contagious diseases like measles and polio that can spread quickly in schools and other public places. I don’t see what the rush is here, other than to maximize Merck’s potential profits.
    And as a pro-life conservative, I cringe to see people like Jill Stanek, who have been or could be effective spokespersons for our causes, throw away their credibility for the sake of getting a few “digs” in at people they don’t like. Whatever happened to the idea of “noblesse oblige”… setting a good example for others to follow?

  49. - dan l - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 11:13 pm:


    Apparently, Rich Miller now has his lemmings. If Rich wanted to form a fan club, that would be a great name: “Rich Miller’s Lemmings”.

    Actually, Rich Miller’s Lemmings is the name of Rich’s new tekno’ funk post modern industrial rap group. He’s got the editorial staff at the trib waxing mad crazy style beats.

    The band’s myspace page launches next week. See you at the CD release party @ Smart Bar!!!

  50. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 7:21 am:

    I haven’t read all of this. I’m always a little leery of therapies heavily pushed by the pharm companies. There are always a group of people with a reaction, sometimes bad, to a vaccine. I’d really want to know the science behind this vaccine before making it mandatory for kids.

    I have a feeling that’s been lost in all of the above.

  51. - crazyschoollady - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 8:14 am:

    Parents rushing to get this shot need to slow down and do some “homework”. This vaccine is not proven yet. Let’s not forget Vioxx. The State should not be mandating a vaccine that does not pose an immediate health risk to the general public. While left untreated, cervical cancer is deadly, but that’s “untreated”. Regular gyne exams and paps and the it is also one of the most treatable cancers. If young girls are “scared” to go to the gyne, they are too young to be having sex. If they are going to take on the realities of sexual activity, they have to accept all that goes with it, including speculums! All of you who support the mandate, don’t you wonder why Merck has been funding the lobbyists? They stand to make a boatload, that alone is a conflict and should raise eyebrows. Young children have been exposed to enought “mandates” and with the rising rates of Austism spectrum disorders, there should be more research on Autism causation. There are too many questions about vaccines and autism. Until we know for sure that thimerisol does not have a link to autism, and we do not, no one should be mandating that young girls receive another vaccine, that hasn’t even been proven to be effective. Perhaps Merck should be funding more research in effectiveness and autism causation instead of politics and lobbyists.

  52. - Fan of the Game - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 8:43 am:

    i d - Tuesday, Feb 20, 07 @ 4:12 pm:

    I think that if this is mandated, it must be covered by insurance or given at county health departments for a minimum fee.
    If the state mandates it, the state should pay 100%. Of course, that means tax payers pay 100%. This is just a bad proposal all the way around.

  53. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 9:51 am:

    Two things to remember–the vaccine has been tested on over 13,000 women over the last five years. This isn’t something still in the testing phase.

    Secondly, the notion that there are widespread side effects is just not true. Here is the report on the testing:

    I’m fine with not requiring as long as insurance has to cover it, but the scare tactics by those opposing gardasil are nonsense. The science on the vaccine is good. If parents want to not have their kids vaccinated that is their choice, but it’s more likely to help them in the future than to create anything worse than a slight fever.

  54. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:42 am:

    Arch, adverse events are a certainity with any drug or vaccine. A tiny chance for each of us, but a certainity for someone in the whole universe (odd how statistics work that way and why we I keep playing lotto…I know someone will win with certaintiy).

    Public Health decisions are all about waying these odds.

    Liberals so quick to question the Military Industrial complex but their obliviouis to the Medical Industrial complex.

    So you want to mandate this risk accross the board to Illinois girls based on a lobbyists word….

  55. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:42 am:

    weighing I mean… but you get the pic

  56. - crazyschoollady - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    13,000 women is a drop in the bucket and 5 years is not very much time at all… I don’t think enough is known or being researched and the State has no business making this vaccine it’s business…no offense Archpundit.

  57. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    PS who funded the research you cited? That’s always the first question with these outfits.

  58. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    I wish the odds on the lotto were one out of 13,000 by the way.

  59. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:51 am:

    Geez… Halliborton getting a contract under Logcap more competitive than this… Jill Stanek puts a twist on things I don’t share, but she knows a set up when she sees it. Credit her that….

    But the Virginia Beach Republican expects the bill to become law and that Merck & Co. — the lone maker of Gardasil — will benefit greatly.

    Merck, which yesterday suspended an expensive behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign, had pushed local lawmakers in more than 20 states to bar preteens from attending school unless they were inoculated against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

    From steakhouse meals for elected officials in North Carolina to a lobbying job for a former top staffer of the Texas governor, Merck had lobbied officials on numerous issues, but HPV is a major topic of discussion, disclosure reports filed in statehouses across the country show.

  60. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 10:59 am:

    I have to laugh at all the conspiracy freaks here:

    “They want to sell a product — MUST BE BAD!”

    As if the act of selling somehow inevitably means that the product is not worthwhile.

    Stanek rambling on about a woman’s sex life and Baar rambling about the Military-Industrial Complex. With those two as the Voice of the Right, no wonder the ILGOP is little more than a footnote.

  61. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 11:03 am:

    ====Public Health decisions are all about waying these odds.

    Yep, and the odds are very strongly in favor of gardasil being a benefit to those who are administered it with the worst reaction being a slight fever and no long term effects.

    Nearly all drug trials are paid for by the manufacturer. That is the system set up by the FDA. It’s not the best type of system, but it’s also regulated and overseen by the FDA-if you are upset about the FDA, talk to those who have emasculated it under the Bush Administration.

    All that being said, the worst thing that can be said about the vaccine is that it cause slight fevers and it hurts when injected.

    Contrary to assertions above 13,000 people over 5 years is quite sufficient to test for serious effects of a vaccine. What theoretical reason would you expect the 13000 people to be different from the general population? And given it is a vaccine what would change in five years? What would be adequate and of the medicines you take how many would fit your standard?

    Now, can we stop with ‘liberals’ say this in this case and have a discussion over the actual evidence in this case? It’s lame and silly argument.

    ===So you want to mandate this risk accross the board to Illinois girls based on a lobbyists word….

    Actually, I have said I don’t think it needs to be mandated as long as insurance companies provide coverage for it. And it isn’t a lobbyist’s word, it is in the documentation provided to the FDA.

  62. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 11:42 am:

    Adverse drug reactions a huge source of med errors. The drug lobby a huge lobby. Sit in your Doctors office some day and count the drug reps coming in with stuff for your Doc. It’s a very open conspiracy.

    I’m old enough to have gone to school with kids victims of the thalidomide tragedy.

    So I’d be concerned about any drug given to girls just before child bearing age that’s heavily lobbied by the drug reps. Even without the lobbying….

    And don’t doubt the Healt care industry’s clout man… it’s a big outfit, big bucks, and tough…

  63. - dan l - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 11:48 am:


    Stanek rambling on about a woman’s sex life and Baar rambling about the Military-Industrial Complex. With those two as the Voice of the Right, no wonder the ILGOP is little more than a footnote.

    Fair point Skeeter. I don’t think the good Dr. Baar is really ranting Big Pharma or vast medical industrialist complex, rather just pointing out the fact that there is a certain danger when big medical companies are actively lobbying for fairly bold legislation. It’s more so dangerous than most corporate work, because it’s actually involving the health and well being of our children.

    Stanek the other hand, attempting to tie the HPV vaccine to the vast homosexual agenda while trying to explain to us that being a woman is actually about not being sexually empowered is what makes ILGOP so grabasstic.

    Check the noize I done brought.

  64. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 11:50 am:


    I have a topic for your next column: The Car Controversy.

    These so-called “Car Salesmen” set up shop and try and push their so-called “automobiles” on people. Know why? Because they want to MAKE MONEY.

    There is another group that Baar should be aware of: The Office Supply Lobby. They come into your office and want to SELL you paper and pens!

    With Baar’s help, we can stop all these “salesmen” from pushing their products. Heck, if Baar has his way, we can shut down this awful free market of ours!

    Thanks for taking the lead on this Baar! Where there are Sales, there must be Conspiracy. At least according to Baar and his “interesting” friends on the far right.

  65. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 11:58 am:

    Skeeter, When the Office Supply people mandate I buy my kids school supplies from their sole source store, and are found lobbying my reps and teachers to mandate I purchase their pens, paper and notebooks…. well, yeah, I’d have a problem with it. It’s bad enough the Profs have my kids buy their own books.

  66. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 12:07 pm:

    ===Adverse drug reactions a huge source of med errors. The drug lobby a huge lobby. Sit in your Doctors office some day and count the drug reps coming in with stuff for your Doc. It’s a very open conspiracy.

    And again, non-substantive. The problem of drug reps comes in that doctors are too lazy and simply go with what they are told by the reps. That’s an entirely different issue from a vaccine.

    The danger of vaccines isn’t due to problems of interaction with other drugs, but with two different issues. One is the preservative issue with Thimerasol which is no longer a problem. Thimerasol is no longer used.

    The second is if the vaccine creates an autoimmune response. Five years is very adequate to test that and there was no significant finding of autoimmune responses being triggered, but even then the warning for the vaccine suggests girls with such existing issues not get the vaccine.

    Merck’s lobbying was stupid, however, that isn’t relevant to a discussion over the safety of the vaccine.

  67. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 12:08 pm:

    ===Skeeter, When the Office Supply people mandate I buy my kids school supplies from their sole source store, and are found lobbying my reps and teachers to mandate I purchase their pens, paper and notebooks…. well, yeah, I’d have a problem with it. It’s bad enough the Profs have my kids buy their own books.

    So you are against pharmaceutical patents now? Or all patents?

  68. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 12:14 pm:

    I’m gonna step into this discussion with one important fact that’s being overlooked.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics is against a vaccine mandate until more studies are done about side effects.

  69. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 12:42 pm:

    And that’s one of the reasons I think it shouldn’t be mandated, but the insurance companies should cover it. AAP does highly recommend the vaccine and CDC points out that the side effects documented are minimal. All that said, parents should have the ability to choose whether to a new vaccine is given to their child in the case where it isn’t a communicable disease.

    The Vioxx comparison is a little weird given Vioxx isn’t a vaccine which have completely different sets of risks. Vioxx was tested over six months with about 4000 people in the control and the experimental group compared to five years and 13,000 in the experimental group alone. Vioxx was expidited and on top of that had more reactions than does gardasil. More study is a good thing, but as far as the initial results, they are incredibly positive.

  70. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 2:32 pm:

    It’s a communicable disease through sexual activity and some 50% to 75% or (~ 20 of us (apprx 20 million Americans) who are sexually active, have it.

    Whether a mandating vaccine that’s effective 70% of the time agains some strains of it, which can then go on to cause cervical cancer in a percentage of women (and a smaller percentage of cancers in men) makes sense as Public Health Policy, I don’t know….

    Red Flags just go up for me when Pols lobbied my Merck jump onto this bandwagen in Springfield.

    A good blog on the ethics of vaccines is from U of Penn center for Bioethics.

    Also keep in mind, the rule of thumb told Medical Students, is that about half the literature they’re reading, is wrong.

  71. - crazyschoollady - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 4:23 pm:

    Again, No offense Archpundit. Sorry for my “wierd” comparison to Vioxx, and I guess that I must be crazy because I want more research before I expose my 9yo to a vaccine that is not proven to prevent this cancer, at all, not buying it, sorry…”no offense”. Also, you are either being fed false info, or you just don’t know the facts about Thimerasol. You said “One is the preservative issue with Thimerasol which is no longer a problem. Thimerasol is no longer used.” That is entirely false. Thimerasol may not be in this vaccine but it is being used in many vaccines that are being administered today, including the flu shot. Again, no offense, I just don’t agree with you, and I don’t think that makes me wierd…

  72. - Archpundit - Wednesday, Feb 21, 07 @ 5:28 pm:

    ===Again, No offense Archpundit. Sorry for my “wierd” comparison to Vioxx, and I guess that I must be crazy because I want more research before I expose my 9yo to a vaccine that is not proven to prevent this cancer, at all, not buying it, sorry

    And again, it’s substance free. What kind of research do you think is sufficient? The argument that there is insufficient research means that you must have some standard for sufficient. And what do you consider acceptable in terms of side effects? What is it? Do you abide by it in other drugs you take including over the counter drugs with far more side effects?

    Of course, the point was that the dangers from vaccines are different than other pharmaceuticals. What is weird is comparing the case of Vioxx which had far less testing and very different potential risks compared to Gardasil which the primary risk is autoimmune response which was absent in the trials.

    In terms of thiomerasol, you are right, there are three vaccines that still use it, though none for infants.

    The discussion is fundamentally irrational and all too common in discussions on anything related to science. The problem isn’t that you disagree with someone, it’s that you cannot offer evidence supporting why you disagree. This is the common problem in dealing with scientific issues where the argument isn’t over the science, but over feelings.

    Furthermore, thiomersal’s danger isn’t in autism as that has been rejected in multiple studies. The danger is simply that one should avoid using a heavy metal when possible since they generally have detrimental effects on human health. While estimates consider the levels that were used safe, there are alternatives except in the case of the flu vaccine.

  73. - crazyschoollady - Thursday, Feb 22, 07 @ 3:39 pm:

    There are manufactured “lots” of vaccines with a shelf life passed 2007 that are still “out there”, and a parent doesn’t know if a vaccine is a new “Thimerasol free” vaccine (if its free) or not, and will they even have the knowledge to ask first? Especially when they have been led to believe there is no more Thimerasol in Vaccines which is hardly the truth…As for infants, the flu shot is recommended for babies as young as 6 months by the “experts”. Here are a few tidbits I found about Gardasil:

    “Because Merck only studied GARDASIL in fewer than 1200 girls under age 16 in pre-licensure trials, it is critical that doctors and parents be made aware of the nature of the initial adverse event reports coming into VAERS and that they report serious health problems after vaccination when they occur,” said NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher. “There are twice as many children collapsing and four times as many children experiencing tingling, numbness and loss of sensation after getting a GARDASIL vaccination compared to those getting a Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) vaccination. There have been reports of facial paralysis and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. And doctors who give GARDASIL in combination with other vaccines are basically conducting an experiment on their young patients because Merck has not published any safety data for simultaneous vaccination with any vaccine except hepatitis B vaccine.”

    “There are more than 15 types of HPV associated with cervical cancer but GARDASIL only contains HPV types 16 and 18. It is unknown whether non-vaccine HPV types will become more dominant in the future. However, there are indications this could occur because some of the seven strains of pneumococcal contained in Wyeth’s PREVNAR vaccine, which was recommended by the CDC for universal use in all babies in 2000, have been replaced by some of the more than 80 other pneumococcal strains not contained in the vaccine.”

    Read more at:

    This is just one site. I’m sure one could research the internet for hours and find opinions that don’t concur with yours, AP.

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Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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