Not long ago, Jane Galt wanted to know why the anti-anti-abortion folks think that their anti-abortion opponents are anti-feminist and hostile to sex. Now Jane wants to know why anyone would oppose mandatory vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus, a virus associated with cervical cancer.
Since Jane is one of my favorite sort-of-libertarian bloggers, nothing pleases me more than the opportunity to answer her questions: HPV vaccination is controversial largely because much of the “Right-to-Life” movement hates it, just as they hate anything that might make sex less dangerous. The National Pro-Life Action Center thinks it’s a plot by “agents of the culture of death.” The American Life League, “the world’s largest pro-life organization,” proposes that we shut down all Planned Parenthood offices instead. Human Life International calls the HPV vaccine a “chemical condom.” (And of course if you’re “pro-life” you must be anti-condom.)
Now since opposing what’s in effect a cancer vaccine is pretty dumb politically, some of the “pro-life” groups, including the Family Research Center and Focus on the Family, reversed their opposition to FDA approval of the drug: of course, after it had been approved. Now they’re just fighting mandatory vaccination.
To be fair, not all anti-abortion groups oppose HPV vaccination; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example supports it. But (except for a few anti-vaccination fanatics and the usual libertarian suspects) virtually everyone opposed to HPV vaccination comes from the “Right-to-Life” (or, in this case “Right-to-Cancer”) camp.
I’m happy to stop calling the “pro-lifers” anti-sex when they start acting as if they preferred saving lives to preventing sex.
Footnote As Reason Hit & Run admits, the “mandate” in “mandatory vaccination” would in this case be a default setting, not an actual mandate. And of course the “herd immunity” effect makes everyone who isn’t vaccinated a threat to everyone else, especially for a disease where vaccination is imperfect (and which can be spread without sexual contact). But that doesn’t matter; the Reason crew is fully as fanatical as the most extreme “pro-lifers,” so for them avoiding the “stench of corporate welfare” and the “smell of social engineering” is more important than avoiding needless deaths. One thing Jesse Walker doesn’t bother to notice: if the HPV vaccine is given by “opt-in” rather than “opt-out,” parents who “opt-in” wind up more or less expressing the opinion that they expect their daughters to be sexually active, which many of them may be reluctant to do.