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Like “Plastic or Paper?” but for Your Vagina

February 7, 2008

I’m watching the video of the HPV vaccine mandate panel discussion from the other night, and Texas Representative Jessica Farrar, who worked to get the HPV vaccine included in school requirements, is talking about a conversation with another Rep who sponsored legislation banning such a mandate. Says Farrar:

“Rep. Dennis Bonnen said, ‘Well, the answer to this is that women should just get more pap smears.’ My response to this was that, well, first I asked him if he preferred plastic or metal, but he had no idea what I was talking about.”

Heh. Of course, she goes on to explain that vaccines are for prevention, while pap smears are for screening/detection (and access to healthcare is obviously an issue there), but it’s a funny moment in the discussion. More on the panel later. Also, I wished I’d been able to go and had made the connection earlier that panelist Linda MacDonald Glenn is the same Linda from the Women’s Bioethics Blog. Women’s health wonks and bloggers, if you’re ever in Nashville, look me up.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2008 8:34 am

    So what’s your take on requiring it for school? I’m only a boy, but it seems like a bad idea to start mandating more vaccinations when there’s so much controversy about the ones we already have.

  2. February 7, 2008 8:37 am

    I don’t have an intelligent response, Rachel… I just wanted to say this is like one of the best blog post titles EVER. Hee.

  3. February 7, 2008 8:46 am

    W, I don’t buy a lot of the vaccine conspiracy theories, I just don’t, and there are huge public health benefits to having a well-vaccinated populace. The proposed law had opt-out provisions that were not just for religious exemptions – the parents simply had to be informed, and choose to opt out. Farrar made the point that they require tetanus vaccines as well, and tetanus isn’t an easy casual contact issue, either. There’s the governmental role/personal liberty issue of whether any vaccines should be required, ever, but I don’t think there’s anything special about this vaccine (if vaccines are going to be required), contrary to the “it’ll make our daughters sluts!” people’s opinions.

  4. February 7, 2008 8:47 am

    Lynnster, thanks. 🙂
    W, my shorter version: It’s complicated. It’s also extremely difficult for me to be objective about this issue because I’ve seen someone deal with cervical cancer up close and personally.

  5. February 7, 2008 10:58 am

    I don’t buy the conspiracy theories either Rachel, but when you look at what’s in some vaccines it’s hard not to get a little concerned. Especially when they like to give so many of those to a tiny baby at the same time.

    I’m no advocate of skipping vaccines. My twins will definitely get them, but I think we’re going to have them spaced a little more than the standard.

    I’m all for preventitive health measures. And my daughter will most likely get the HPV vaccine, but I’m leery of government mandates like that. So long as there’s an opt out option I think it’s a good idea to mandate it being offered.

  6. February 7, 2008 8:13 pm

    Rep. Bonnen, obstructing saved lives one missing clue at a time. : )
    I hate the “women should just have better health care!” approach. For one thing, there’s a huge difference between prevention and detection, as your post points out. For another, though… half the problem with good reproductive healthcare is that not all women CAN get it, let alone more of it.

  7. February 8, 2008 10:36 pm

    I’m so sorry I missed you! I will definitely call you next time I’m in Nashville — are you going to ASBH or any other conferences later this year? Maybe we can meet for coffee?

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