Responding to a barrage of criticism for signing on executive order that will force adolescent girls to receive the HPV vaccine regimen, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is quoted in the Houston Chronicle today saying, "If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it claiming it would encourage smoking?"

I have thought of that analogy myself.  It is perfect.  Lung cancer is predominantly caused by cigarette smoking, which is currently a politically incorrect behaviorChicago and Illinois lawmakers have increasingly sought to discourage this behavior by making it more difficult to carry out this behavior.

So to answer Perry’s question, we would welcome a lung cancer vaccine but wouldn’t turn around and say, "Great, let’s all smoke!"  Because we know smoking causes a myriad of other cancers as well as health problems like emphysema and hardening of the arteries.  Furthermore, we know this behavior has secondary consequences of endangering the health of other people who come in contact with the smoker.

Debbie winokur.jpgSo when actress Marissa Jaret Winokur and IL state Sen. Debbie Halvorson admitted they had HPV and worried others might get it, you would think they’d focus on their behavior that caused them to contract that sexually transmitted disease.

Winokur and Halvorson would be most helpful by discussing the health consequences of pre- or extra-marital sex.  Here are some potential topics:

  • They could discuss the number of sex partners they have had throughout their lifetime and how each one increased the likelihood of contracting HPV. 
  • If they even had only one sex partner aside from their husbands, they could discuss how one can contract HPV from a sole encounter. 
  • They could discuss whether they realized at the time their sex partners carried HPV, which most trusting, vulnerable women don’t. 
  • They could disclose whether it was their husbands who passed HPV on to them after sleeping with other women, demonstrating another reason for chaste behavior outside the marraige bedroom. 
  • More uncomfortably, if they contracted HPV through rape, they could discuss ways to avoid rape.

But neither one advocates avoiding a risky behavior that leads not only to HPV but to 20+ other STDs and their strains, along with unplanned pregnancy.  They merely advocate trying to avoid the consequences of risky behavior.  Shame on them.

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