It Don't Matter Who's in Austin, Rick Perry Is Still the King

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Last week Maryland avoided an ill-conceived scheme to mandate the HPV vaccine. Now Texas has moved in the opposite direction.

From the AP's report:

Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer….Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21….

Merck [which makes the vaccine] is bankrolling efforts to pass state laws across the country mandating Gardasil for girls as young as 11 or 12. It doubled its lobbying budget in Texas and has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

Perry has ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.

The governor also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.

Here's the strangest part of the story:

The order is effective until Perry or a successor changes it, and the Legislature has no authority to repeal it, said Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody. Moody said the Texas Constitution permits the governor, as head of the executive branch, to order other members of the executive branch to adopt rules like this one.

It sure sounds to me like Perry is writing legislation here, not just issuing an order about how the existing laws should be enacted. And even if the order itself is constitutionally legit, I can't see why the legislature wouldn't be able to overrule it with a new bill. But I don't know much about Texas law. Could Moody's claim possibly be true?

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  1. As far as I know, it’d be about the only think the governor is actually able to do. And, frankly, this is one of the less stupid things Perry has done in his tenure. It’s nice to know he’s more than just an empty suit beneath a perfectly molded mane.

  2. It’s nice to know he’s more than just an empty suit beneath a perfectly molded mane.

    Somehow, I don’t find much comfort in the discovery that he’s an authoritarian nanny-stater beneath a perfectly molded mane.

  3. Gee, and for years (especially when Ann Richards was running against GWB) we heard about how Texas has a weak governor — the office, not the person. For instance, s/he can’t veto bills. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have certain “gotcha” powers like this. If I had the time I’d use Findlaw on the Texas constitution to check it out. Hey, don’t they pay you for that, Jesse?

    I still think it’s ridiculous they want to routinely vaccinate little children vs. hepatitis B. It’s so weird that at the same time there’s a significant and somewhat wacky anti-vaccine movement, the country has also gone vaccine crazy.

  4. Hey, don’t they pay you for that, Jesse?

    Congratulations: You’ve just discovered one of the differences between reporting a story and throwing up a blog post.

  5. For instance, s/he can’t veto bills. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have certain “gotcha” powers like this.

    Hmmm, Can’t veto bills, but can make executive decisions without having to consult the legislature. It sounds somewhat familiar, no?

  6. And the first girl to have a reaction to the vaccine should (and will) sue the hell out of the state.

    Damn, the H&R pillow girl is coming very close to making H&R a NSFW site.

  7. You guys are losing your touch – it took two comments before somebody used the term “nanny-stater”.

  8. You guys are losing your touch – it took two comments before somebody used the term “nanny-stater”.

    How many comments before someone calls you a troll?

  9. And the first girl to have a reaction to the vaccine should (and will) sue the hell out of the state.

    I imagine that the first girl to have a reaction will have taken the vaccine voluntarily and will probably sue the hell out of Merck.

    Chances are HnR won’t be behind that lawsuit so much, tho:

    https://www.reason.com/news/show/33148.html

    Actually, from a liability for side effects point of view, it may be good to have state government involvement, because they are liklier to provide fair compensation to those who suffer side effects, rather than leaving side effects suffers to the vagaries of litigation. More people will have side effects under a mandatory scheme for sure, but at least those that do are liklier to get an amount of money that compensates, but not excessively so. There would be more transparency and accountability in the side effects compensation process than if Merck has the primary responsibility for making the compensations.

    Since Merck is lobbying so hard for this, maybe they should post a bond with the state so that there are ready funds if things go bad. If things don’t go bad, then Merck gets its money back in due course. Hopefully the $6000 (and any other good and valuable consideration received in hand) won’t blind Gov Perry from the usefulness of the bond as a fairness tool in a situation like this.

  10. You know me, RC. Pro-nanny state, pro-authority at every turn, man. Let’s give it up for Governor Hair while we’re at it! Whoo!

  11. I was hoping for the “in the pockets of BigPharma” comment myself.

  12. Congratulations: You’ve just discovered one of the differences between reporting a story and throwing up a blog post.

    Hey, for a magazine called “Reason” I expect higher quality blog posts!

    Drink!

    🙂

  13. took two comments before somebody used the term “nanny-stater”.

    This act is the apotheosis of nanny statism. What would you call the state compelling mandatory child vaccination for a behavior-related disease?

  14. For instance, s/he can’t veto bills.

    Not.

    Except in the case of a bill sent to the governor within 10 days of final adjournment, upon receiving a bill, the governor has 10 days in which to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature. If the governor elects to veto the bill and the legislature is still in session, the bill is returned to the chamber in which it originated with an explanation of the governor’s objections. A two-thirds majority in each chamber is required to override the veto. If the governor neither vetoes nor signs the bill within the allotted time, the bill becomes a law. If a bill is sent to the governor within 10 days of final adjournment, the governor has until 20 days after final adjournment to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature. (http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/gtli/legproc/process_govact.html)

    Anne Richards vetoed the 1993 concealed handgun license bill, one of the things that got GWB elected governor. This year Gov. Perry has until June 17 to veto legislation passed by the 80th Legislature.

    I’m not sure about the executive order, but it’s possible. The Texas Constitution was a reaction to the excesses of post Civil War Reconstruction, and has its little quirks.

  15. Perry “Bushes” Texas, is now free to do whatever the hell he damn pleases, and would everyone else just shut up about it, jeez.

  16. Sam, fair point about Merck, but I still think the state would be involved as well, as there’s nothing preventing a parent from saying in retrospect “well, I never would have done this had the state not mandated it”.

    I also eagerly await the first parent who simply says “no, my daughter is not receiving this”. I assume at that point she would not be allwoed to attend public school?

  17. ..And the first girl to have a reaction to the vaccine should (and will) sue the hell out of the state.

    The tax payers in Texas may have some exposure but you can bet that Merck is completely protected at the federal level! Thank you Senator Burr…you fucking shill!

  18. This act is the apotheosis of nanny statism. What would you call the state compelling mandatory child vaccination for a behavior-related disease?

    I agree it fits the definition of the “nanny state” slur.

    My point is that the term itself is not meant as anything more than as a thinly veiled slippery-slope dismissal, meant to discourage discussion of a particular topic by painting anybody who disagrees with you in a negative light.

  19. Isn’t this vaccine the gateway vaccine?

  20. “I assume at that point she would not be allwoed to attend public school?”

    Please, Br’er Fox, don’t throw me in the briar patch!

  21. Dan T. isn’t a troll. He’s an online performance artiste.

  22. One more thing I must point out – libertarians will vigorously defend a corporation’s rights to donate as much money and throw as much support behind elected leaders as they like. I mean, it would be a violation of Merck’s First Amendment rights if they couldn’t give Rick Perry thousands of dollars.

    Then, the same libertarians will act quite appalled when that “investment” is returned via fishy government action.

    So I guess you sometimes have to pick your nanny state poison.

  23. The people who are afraid of vaccines probably deserve to have their genetic line snuffed out, people who are against vaccines for “moral” reasons definitely do.

  24. I don’t know how Perry found time to do this between selling off State parks to housing developers and making his plans to pave a 1200 foot wide strip through the middle of the state.

  25. the term itself is not meant as anything more than as a thinly veiled slippery-slope dismissal, meant to discourage discussion

    I guess what you are trying to say is that it depends on context, but this is the right context for it. Texans will now be further ensconced at the teat of the state against their wishes. My guess is that there is a Medicare/Medicaid argument to be made somewhere (i.e. Merck has sold them an economic argument that it will cost the state less to push through mandatory vaccinations now than to treat cervical cancer down the road) but I have not heard it made thus far.

  26. Dan: We will also defend the free speech rights of Maoists, and oppose politicians who adopt Maoist positions. I’m sure you also feel that this is an untenable contradiction.

  27. I’m all in favor of the right to get this vaccine, but I have to admit that I have some questions about the urgency of mandating it, let alone the wisdom of subsidizing it. In the previous thread we heard mixed responses on whether the relevant strains of the virus can be communicated by means other than sexual contact. I am skeptical of the claim that cancer-causing viruses are routinely spread via toilets (although I’m open to being proven wrong on that).

    I’m generally fine with mandating vaccination against deadly illnesses that can easily spread through the air or on desks, doorknobs, and other very inadvertent means of contact. In such cases, we’re talking about a deadly disease that spreads without the knowledge of either party, in a manner that the recipient did not consent to. Since there’s no way for individuals to meaningfully control what they come into contact with, it would make sense to mandate a reasonably priced vaccine. Yeah, we libertarians don’t like to mandate anything, but if you’re talking about events where no consent has occured, and where nobody can be knowledgeable about what they’re coming into contact with (short of extreme measures like analyzing every doorknob), then the standard libertarian objections become less relevant.

    However, I am skeptical of the claim that this virus spreads quite that easily. I have heard that it only spreads via acts that (normally) occur with the deliberate consent and knowledge of both parties. Also, while it is known that most cases of cervical cancer are caused by this virus, the opposite is not true: Most people carrying the virus do not get cervical cancer.

    In summary, I am not convinced that this is in the same category as smallpox.

  28. Dan: We will also defend the free speech rights of Maoists, and oppose politicians who adopt Maoist positions. I’m sure you also feel that this is an untenable contradiction.

    I would be more comfortable if we had some better standards for determining when speech shades into bribery. If all my information about this stuff came from HnR threads then I would assume that no liability for bribary attaches unless and until the Governor places the cash in his freezer. At which point, and only at which point, it becomes a bribe. The touchstone, near as I can tell, is snarkability.

    Also, much (maybe most) of the “supporting free speech” done here at HnR is in the form of protecting speech from requiring gov’t registration and any other form of transparency.

    Supporting Merck’s right to give undisclosed, undeclared forms of support to government officials is not co-extensive with supporting Merck’s right to free speech.

    Of course, I can’t prove that Perry is getting anything better, or more, than the $6000, but, cuhhhhh-mmmmon.

  29. One more thing I must point out – libertarians will vigorously defend a corporation’s rights to donate as much money and throw as much support behind elected leaders as they like. I mean, it would be a violation of Merck’s First Amendment rights if they couldn’t give Rick Perry thousands of dollars.

    Then, the same libertarians will act quite appalled when that “investment” is returned via fishy government action.

    So I guess you sometimes have to pick your nanny state poison.

    Your conclusion is a false dichotomy. That those whose freedom of speech we support may use it in ways with which we don’t agree is hardly surprising, nor would it somehow justify denying them their freedom of speech. Your logic is similar to saying that libertarians (or liberals!) who support the freedom of speech of rap artists are appalled when their support results in their kids buying music full of foul language. Well maybe some may be, but those whose support of free speech is not flimsy are okay with the fact that the resulting speech doesn’t always go where they want it to. Otherwise it wouldn’t be “free”!!

  30. Dan: We will also defend the free speech rights of Maoists, and oppose politicians who adopt Maoist positions. I’m sure you also feel that this is an untenable contradiction.

    I guess our differences in this case are more that I’m not sure that giving money to a political candidate is a form of free speech.

    Merck simply saying that citizens should be required to use their drugs would be fine with me. But when you allow them to use money to influence government decisions, don’t be surprised when they’re successful.

  31. Dan: We will also defend the free speech rights of Maoists, and oppose politicians who adopt Maoist positions. I’m sure you also feel that this is an untenable contradiction.

    While I was typing up a wordy response to Dan T, Jesse hit the nail on the head with concision!

  32. Your logic is similar to saying that libertarians (or liberals!) who support the freedom of speech of rap artists are appalled when their support results in their kids buying music full of foul language. Well maybe some may be, but those whose support of free speech is not flimsy are okay with the fact that the resulting speech doesn’t always go where they want it to. Otherwise it wouldn’t be “free”!!

    I agree, but the reason we accept this is because we consider the benefits of free speech (free exchange of ideas) to be worth the costs (in this case, foul language).

    So if you consider the cost of Merck’s support of Rick Perry to be worth the benefits of them being allowed to give money to him, then that’s great. But I don’t think that’s the case here.

  33. “Jesse Walker | February 5, 2007, 11:29am | #

    Dan: We will also defend the free speech rights of Maoists, and oppose politicians who adopt Maoist positions. I’m sure you also feel that this is an untenable contradiction.”

    *Creepy villian voice* And so, Reason Magazine contains the seeds of its own destruction.

    Exxxxxx-cellent!

  34. No, joe, Reason will never be destroyed. Some musicians who drive around in a van with a talking dog will save the magazine.

    But you would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those darn kids!

  35. So if you consider the cost of Merck’s support of Rick Perry to be worth the benefits of them being allowed to give money to him, then that’s great. But I don’t think that’s the case here.

    Wrong. For two reasons. One is a little matter of what is known as “principle”. But leaving that debate aside and focusing on the purely “pragmatic” aspect (I use scare quotes cause I think these two things are usually two ways of describing the same thing), one may feel that if the only free speech issue was whether or not to allow foul language then perhaps the benefits wouldn’t be worth the costs (this would vary with the individual). It’s because there are larger issues to free speech than just this one example that allowing free speech as a general principle (whoops, see, they’re really the same thing!) is worth the foul language it sometimes results in. Likewise, allowing people (and businesses) to use money in the petitioning and support of their representatives as a general principle has many benefits aside from the pros and cons of the particular example at hand.

  36. “Promiscuity is the deble”

    The governor of Texas had to have been fairly desperate to keep the religious fundies at bay on this issue

    given the chance, they’d rally their irrational troops by pitching this vaccine as the work of the devil, telling kids it’s okay to have sex before marriage

  37. This falls into a gray area for me. Hypothetical question: if/when an AIDS vaccine is discovered, and after it’s been proven safe and effective and everything, what would your take be on a law mandating that parents vaccinate their children against AIDS? I guarantee there will be moralists opposing the vaccine for their children because it “sends the wrong message” about sex or the use of needle drugs.

  38. Wrong. For two reasons. One is a little matter of what is known as “principle”. But leaving that debate aside and focusing on the purely “pragmatic” aspect (I use scare quotes cause I think these two things are usually two ways of describing the same thing), one may feel that if the only free speech issue was whether or not to allow foul language then perhaps the benefits wouldn’t be worth the costs (this would vary with the individual). It’s because there are larger issues to free speech than just this one example that allowing free speech as a general principle (whoops, see, they’re really the same thing!) is worth the foul language it sometimes results in. Likewise, allowing people (and businesses) to use money in the petitioning and support of their representatives as a general principle has many benefits aside from the pros and cons of the particular example at hand.

    Fair enough, but remember my beginning point is that if you’re going to advocate a position, then you kind of have to take the bad results along with the good ones. But libertarians seem to want to have it both ways, and don’t understand why the fantasy of a world with no rules where everybody voluntarily behaves as if there were rules doesn’t always fit with reality.

  39. Whoops, forgot to mention in my last post: I’d support a law mandating AIDS vaccinations for kids.

  40. This falls into a gray area for me. Hypothetical question: if/when an AIDS vaccine is discovered, and after it’s been proven safe and effective and everything, what would your take be on a law mandating that parents vaccinate their children against AIDS? I guarantee there will be moralists opposing the vaccine for their children because it “sends the wrong message” about sex or the use of needle drugs.

    There would also be H&R commenters complaining about how the Nanny State is robbing people of their right to contract AIDS.

  41. what would your take be on a law mandating that parents vaccinate their children against AIDS?

    As I understand it the big argument for vaccinating children against cervical cancer at an early age is not so that the can become sexually active any earlier than they already are, but rather the efficacy of the vaccination is tied to early vaccination. That is what makes it such an interesting debate. If the same applies to the mythical AIDS vaccine the debate is pretty similar. AIDS is a behavior-related disease just like the subset of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. I cannot see a reason for the state to step in.

  42. I’ve heard it both ways on early vaccination: Either it’s about ensuring that they are vaccinated before infection (either by sexual contact or some other means, with some suggesting that it can be spread using bathrooms and locker rooms and similar facilities, without any intimate contact between individuals, although that sounds dubious) and others saying that the body is simply less responsive to the virus after a certain age.

    I know that the body goes through lots of changes during puberty, but I haven’t heard much about vaccines against other diseases being less effective in post-pubescent people. Then again, I haven’t followed it very closely.

    I hear it both ways, and I would appreciate a link to some peer-reviewed publication not produced by either a vaccine manufacturer or government agency proposing and/or enforcing a policy (be it a policy of mandatory vaccination or a policy of restricted access, or whatever else).

  43. AIDS is a behavior-related disease just like the subset of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. I cannot see a reason for the state to step in.

    But calling it a behavior-related disease implies that it can only be contracted via voluntary actions, rather than through situations like rape. (I’m ignoring the ugly undertone that if a kid has sex and catches a fatal disease it serves the little slut right.)

    Even if an AIDS (or HPV) vaccine was just as useful if a person took the shot at eighteen, that doesn’t help a person who caught the disease while still a minor.

    I think this is one of those cases where the parent’s rights are less important than the child’s. I have no problem with an adult Jehovah’s Witness who would rather die than get a blood transfusion, but I don’t think such a person has the right to condemn his minor child to death to avoid hurting his religious sensibilities.

  44. People still catch HIV through accidents and medical errors.

  45. How many of these upset parents forbid their kids from wearing seatbelts, out of concern that it sends the wrong message about fast driving?

    I’m betting it’s zero.

  46. Aren’t all communicable diseases “behavior related”?

  47. I hear it both ways, and I would appreciate a link to some peer-reviewed publication not produced by either a vaccine manufacturer or government agency . . .

    If it is peer-reviewed it doesn’t matter who produced the study. The peer-review scrubs away any economic bias that might otherwise be suspected based on the circumstances. peer review is mighty pow’rful./T. mode

  48. Some are a lot more behavior related than others.

  49. Fair enough, but remember my beginning point is that if you’re going to advocate a position, then you kind of have to take the bad results along with the good ones. But libertarians seem to want to have it both ways, and don’t understand why the fantasy of a world with no rules where everybody voluntarily behaves as if there were rules doesn’t always fit with reality.

    I didn’t notice anyone on this thread doing what you’ve just accused libertarians en masse of doing. Did you?

  50. This falls into a gray area for me.

    Jennifer, I think whenever parents want for their kids something that others see as dangerous for the kids or for others, there’ll inevitably be a conflict that has no easy answer.

  51. But calling it a behavior-related disease implies that it can only be contracted via voluntary actions, rather than through situations like rape.

    I make no implication that the behavior is necessarily consensual so you are absolutely right, it could occur through rape. But given the extremely small percentage of the time that this is the case for either HIV or HPV, I see no role for the state.

    My daughters are 10 and 6. Needless to say my wife and I have not even discussed sex with them. Once it is time to have that conversation, which is pretty soon, I would be perfectly willing to talk to her about the vaccine, I think she can make a rational decision. By definition the state cannot, since they cannot know my daughter’s preferences and what would be in her best interests better than she does. In a general sense I don’t either, but I am in a much better position to help her than the government and that is my role both by biology and custody.

  52. Swillfredo, I’m more concerned with the kids who WOULD make a decision to take the vaccine, but the parents won’t allow it due to their apparent belief that the threat of a hideous death is the only thing lying between their children and a lifetime of sluthood.

  53. What I am wondering is how long it will be before the gender discrimination suit is filed, for not requiring boys to take this vaccine?

    After all, boys can spread it even if it does not affect them the same way.

    So far as HPV being a behavior related disease, only partly true.

    I suspect those that say this think mating behaviors is completely voluntary, but it is not. Else there would not so many humans wandering around.

    In addition, there is the problem of forced sex such as in rape and incest.

    Does this order cover children going to private schools as well? If so there is a problem with it, I think. But if it covers only those going to government schools then I think it is well within reason. The governor, as the one who ultimately administers the schools is within his authority to set the standards for entry for students, barring any laws or Const. prohibitions to the contrary.

    But that brings up the whole compulsory socialized education system, which is another minefield.

  54. Looks like we lost a battle in Maryland, but don’t worry. …we’re still winning the war!

    …so we can’t vaccinate ’em? We can still insert the government into all sorts of other areas–we can teach ’em about evolution–whether their parents like it or not–we can put some spin on how they view themselves and others sexually. We can recruit them into our armed forces–why we can even control their diets!

    Maybe people just need a little more time. Eventually they’ll let us do anything we want–so long as they think we want what’s best.

    …for the children.

  55. I hear you Jennifer, but the list of things that parents already do or do not do that could conceivably harm their children is pretty long already. Not getting this vaccine does not necessarily consign a girl to cervical cancer in later life.

    I don’t make my kids finish their milk and I let them watch the Simpsons. If osteoporosis or general cynicism express themselves in later years my kids will have reason to be pissed at me, but not at the government. Unless there are externalities in common with contagious diseases like TB or polio, and I don’t see that being the case, I think this is one more negative step in the loss of the right to self-determination.

  56. If the state can mandate that children get a vaccine for an STD because it is in the child’s best interest, can the state also mandate that children under the age of, say, fifteen, have any pregnancies aborted, for the same reason?

    I’m just askin’, is all.

  57. I hear you Jennifer, but the list of things that parents already do or do not do that could conceivably harm their children is pretty long already. Not getting this vaccine does not necessarily consign a girl to cervical cancer in later life.

    And as I pointed out in the thread last week, even getting the vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get cervical cancer. In fact, girls who are vaccinated will still require yearly Pap smears, and are still under the same obligation as those repressed Christer chicks to watch who they sleep with and practice safe sex.

    What you do get for your $400 and three shots is the knowledge that if you are stupid and sleep around, you’ll have a somewhat lower chance of getting HPV and genital warts. Which is nice, but the risk would have been pretty much eliminated had you been responsible in the first place.

  58. Rick Perry?

    RICK PERRY!!!!!

  59. I’m conflicted on certain levels of ideology, but typically these ‘mandatory’ vaccination schemes are mandatory only to make use of public schools. Homeschooling may be an avenue to opt out. For infectious diseases that are airborne or pass by simple contact, this even makes sense. Since people are required to send their kids to some school, and the default for those who don’t want to homeschool or pay for private school is public school, you do not want to leave people in a situation where they are required to send their children to a school where they may be exposed to preventable disease hazards.

    This argument doesn’t really hold up for HPV, since the transmition method – sex – is unlikely to happen on school grounds (not for the lack of trying).

    However, I do see this as a fairly responsible shot-across-the-bow of the paleoconservatives who oppose the use of this vaccine as ‘promoting teen sex’. A prominent conservative governor making such a personally accountable decision to reject this idea is a powerful statement. By making it an executive order, he doesn’t have the usual political cover of
    “oh, well, they just tacked that onto a bill that I thought was good, so I signed it.” It’s a bona fide buck-stops-here moment. Takes the wind out of the sails of the “HPV is God’s way of smiting the wicked” crowd.

  60. How many of these upset parents forbid their kids from wearing seatbelts, out of concern that it sends the wrong message about fast driving?

    I’m betting it’s zero.

    Back when the subject was being debated in the 70s and 80s, I was strongly opposed to requiring that air bags be included in all autos, given that they cost several hundred dollars each, didn’t give protection against side-impact crashes, and didn’t offer significantly more protection than just fastening your seat belt. IOW, it seemed to be a way of requiring people to pay for protection they could get much more efficiently by modifying their behavior. If I had kids driving, I still wouldn’t want to pay for air bags; I’d just tell them to keep their seat belts fastened.

    I trust the parallel with mandatory HPV vaccine is evident.

    (I understand that air bags are now billed as a seat belt supplement rather than a seat belt replacement, but I haven’t seen any good information about the additional protection they are supposed to provide. Of course, since the air bag debates of the 70s and early 80s, it has turned out that air bags, every so often, will kill passengers, which adds a whole ‘nother factor into the cost-benefit analysis.)

  61. This falls into a gray area for me

    If it’s a gray and thus doubtful area, why are you so apparently certain mandatory vaccination is proper?

  62. If it’s a gray and thus doubtful area, why are you so apparently certain mandatory vaccination is proper?

    With my example of the AIDS vaccine, I specified a vaccine that’s proven safe and effective. With the HPV vaccine, there still might be room for reasonable doubt in that regard.

    (That said, if I had a young daughter I would have already made an appointment for her doctor to give her this vaccine.)

  63. That said, if I had a young daughter I would have already made an appointment for her doctor to give her this vaccine.

    How vigorously would you discourage her from having extramarital sex (when the time came)?

  64. How vigorously would you discourage her from having extramarital sex (when the time came)?

    Why do you automatically assume that if my hypothetical daughter gets married, she’ll cheat on her husband?

  65. Why do you automatically assume that if my hypothetical daughter gets married, she’ll cheat on her husband?

    That is not what I am asking. What I am asking is whether you would try to teach her that extramarital sex is something to be avoided (eg, when you had the birds and the bees talk).

  66. Maybe I should have said “non-marital sex” to avoid the semantic nonsense here.

  67. Jennifer,

    I take it you would support mandatory universal birth control for adolescent girls as well, seeing as how they can get pregnant by being raped.

  68. No, joe, Reason will never be destroyed. Some musicians who drive around in a van with a talking dog will save the magazine.

    But you would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those darn kids!

    Thoreau wins the thread, hands down.

    (BTW, it’s “meddling kids”)

  69. If I had a young daughter, I would wait a few years for the price of the vaccine to go below $400.

    A conservative Christian making everybody spend $400 for something that will only benefit people who aren’t monogamous. I wonder how much of that $400 is going into his pocket?

  70. I take it you would support mandatory universal birth control for adolescent girls as well, seeing as how they can get pregnant by being raped.

    Crimethink, I’m sure you can grasp the difference between pregnancy and cancer and/or death.

    What I am asking is whether you would try to teach her that extramarital sex is something to be avoided

    Why would I do that? I would, however, tell her that sex with people you don’t know very well is something to be avoided.

  71. What Every Parent With A Daughter Should Know About GARDASIL

    1) GARDASIL is a vaccine for 4 strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), two strains that are strongly associated (and probably cause) genital warts and two strains that are typically associated (and may cause) cervical cancer. About 90% of people with genital warts show exposure to one of the two HPV strains strongly suspected to cause genital warts. About 70% of women with cervical cancer show exposure to one of the other two HPV strains that the vaccine is designed to confer resistance to.

    2) HPV is a sexually communicable (not an infectious) virus. When you consider all strains of HPV, over 70% of sexually active males and females have been exposed. A condom helps a lot (70% less likely to get it), but has not been shown to stop transmission in all cases (only one study of 82 college girls who self-reported about condom use has been done). For the vast majority of women, exposure to HPV strains (even the four “bad ones” protected for in GARDASIL) results in no known health complications of any kind.

    3) Cervical cancer is not a deadly nor prevalent cancer in the US or any other first world nation. Cervical cancer rates have declined sharply over the last 30 years and are still declining. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1% of of all female cancer cases and deaths in the US. Cervical cancer is typically very treatable and the prognosis for a healthy outcome is good. The typical exceptions to this case are old women, women who are already unhealthy and women who don’t get pap smears until after the cancer has existed for many years.

    4) Merck’s clinical studies for GARDASIL were problematic in several ways. Only 20,541 women were used (half got the “placebo”) and their health was followed up for only four years at maximum and typically 1-3 years only. More critically, only 1,121 of these subjects were less than 16. The younger subjects were only followed up for a maximum of 18 months. Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

    5) Both the “placebo” groups and the vaccination groups reported a myriad of short term and medium term health problems over the course of their evaluations. The majority of both groups reported minor health complications near the injection site or near the time of the injection. Among the vaccination group, reports of such complications were slightly higher. The small sample that was given a real placebo reported far fewer complications — as in less than half. Furthermore, most if not all longer term complications were written off as not being potentially vaccine caused for all subjects.

    6) Because the pool of test subjects was so small and the rates of cervical cancer are so low, NOT A SINGLE CONTROL SUBJECT ACTUALLY CONTRACTED CERVICAL CANCER IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM — MUCH LESS DIED OF IT. Instead, this vaccine’s supposed efficacy is based on the fact that the vaccinated group ended up with far fewer cases (5 vs. about 200) of genital warts and “precancerous lesions” (dysplasias) than the alum injected “control” subjects.

    7) Because the tests included just four years of follow up at most, the long term effects and efficacy of this vaccine are completely unknown for anyone. All but the shortest term effects are completely unknown for little girls. Considering the tiny size of youngster study, the data about the shortest terms side effects for girls are also dubious.

    8) GARDASIL is the most expensive vaccine ever marketed. It requires three vaccinations at $120 a pop for a total price tag of $360. It is expected to be Merck’s biggest cash cow of this and the next decade.

    These are simply the facts about GARDASIL as presented by Merck and the FDA.

  72. Jennifer,

    All too much, I’m afraid. It’s interesting, heartening even, that you now think death is a greater evil to be avoided than giving birth.

    Not that I want to start another abortion thread of course…

  73. stickdog-

    Some citations, please? Especially for this part:

    Furthermore, less than 10% of these subjects received true placebo injections. The others were given injections containing an aluminum salt adjuvant (vaccine enhancer) that is also a component of GARDASIL. This is scientifically preposterous, especially when you consider that similar alum adjuvants are suspected to be responsible for Gulf War disease and other possible vaccination related complications.

    I don’t know much about these sorts of trials, but if the alum adjuvants have previously been tested for safety then it would seem reasonable to give them to most of the placebo group. That way you could disentangle the effects of the vaccine from the effects of the additives, and verify the efficacy.

    Also, out of curiosity, what’s your general opinion of vaccination?

  74. Ken, are you OK?

    Yeah, just being sarcastic.

    I say we offer a grand bargain to the religious right. Leave us alone and we’ll leave your kids alone.

    But even apart from any grand deal, I find state intrusions into how people raise their kids completely indefensible on libertarian grounds. …and I don’t care whether coercing parents to vaccinate their kids is good for parents or kids or us or society in general.

  75. thoreau, you can get all my references by clicking the link on my name and looking down at the bottom of the initial posting.

    If you actually think that using a shot of alum that has never been proven safe in humans and has been recently shown to cause neural death in mice is a legitimate control placebo, then any scientific credentials you have need to be immediately revoked.

    In terms of vaccines in general, I feel that, like any other medications or procedures, vaccines come with associated risks that need to be weighed against their clinically proven benefits. How about you?

  76. All too much, I’m afraid. It’s interesting, heartening even, that you now think death is a greater evil to be avoided than giving birth.

    It took me a while to get this.

    Funny stuf.

    It is fun to watch the tension between jennifer’s feminist streak and her libertarian streak. it makes her very real somehow.

  77. What tension is that, Sam? I’m sincerely curious to know why you or Crimethink believe there’s somehow an inherent contradiction involved when one is in favor of abortion rights and also in favor of [certain] mandatory vaccinations.

  78. “What tension is that, Sam? I’m sincerely curious to know why you or Crimethink believe there’s somehow an inherent contradiction involved when one is in favor of abortion rights and also in favor of [certain] mandatory vaccinations.”

    Well if choice is your determining factor, it does seem like there’s a contradiction in there somewhere. If what’s best for society is your prime directive, well then I guess there isn’t.

    …there’s just the question of how you or anyone else could possibly know what’s best for all of us.

  79. never been proven safe in humans

    Stickdog, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this. Proving harm is typically pretty easy, but proving safety is the same as proving that there is no harm. A cautious scientist will prefer to avoid terms like ‘proven safe’, but will instead use terms like ‘no evidence of harm’. To use a sentence like that and then question Thoreau’s scientific credentials is a bit harsh. Indeed, I’d say that it shows a remarkable lack of understanding to cast aspersions on his scientific qualifications based solely on his questions of your at-the-time unsupported claims. If you’d given him a chance to look through some of your supporting evidence before jumping to that conclusion, maybe you’d be justified. But given the circumstances, his questions were wholly reasonable.

    Again, neither Thoreau nor myself will claim expertise in either clinical medicine or vaccination. But I would think it would be not only acceptable but vital to have at least one placebo group using an identical substrate to that used for the vaccine. Otherwise, you cannot deconvolve the effects of the substrate from the effects of the vaccine.

    Now, there seems, from the links you provided, to be some indication that more testing of AlOH-based chemicals would be in order. However, googling some of the main actors in this research shows that they are celebrities in the homeopathic crowd, but not gaining much traction outside that group.

    I think that at this point, Gardasil should be optional, and perhaps even encouraged, but I’m hard-pressed to find a valid public interest to justify making it mandatory. I’d be interested to see some further studies of AlOH-based adjuvants and other adjuvants, but I think that scare-mongering about vaccination in general is likely to do far more harm than good.

  80. A cautious scientist will prefer to avoid terms like ‘proven safe’, but will instead use terms like ‘no evidence of harm’.

    Proven safe may be too high a standard (depending upon what “safe” is), but “no evidence of harm” is way, way, way too low of a standard.

  81. If what’s best for society is your prime directive . . .

    well, if that is the prime directive, then nobody has internal tension. I mean that is sort of like being in favor of wise policy or good things.

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