People Magazine: Don't stop, get a shot

marissa2.jpgThe Feb. 5 issue of People magazine included a story about actress Marissa Jaret Winokur who, according to the teaser, "learned the cause of her cervical cancer and now makes sure other women know how to prevent it."

The sole cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Winokur contracted cervical cancer at age 27 due to previous sexual promiscuity, or to put it as ambiguously as possible, said Winokur, "I learned about a year ago that HPV, a common virus, causes cervical cancer. Now there is an HPV test that might have caught my precancerous cells earlier."

The "prevention," according to Winokur? No, not a chaste lifestyle. "There's a vaccine, which can be given to women before they're sexually active," she said in People. "It makes sense to take these precautions. I'll encourage my friends' teenage daughters to get vaccinated."

Aside from the fact Winokur has no business telling other people's children "precautions" to avoid the pitfalls of promiscuous sex, her advice stinks. Let's not address the real cause. Let's try to avoid the ramifications of the cause.

Now Winokur cannot have children because she had to have a hysterectomy. Not to worry. She plans to harvest eggs from her remaining ovaries. To do so she will have to inject megadoses of steroids into her body over a prolonged period of time. That should keep her on a healthy track - not. Winokur is currently looking for a surrogate.

Winokur and People only fuel the exploitation and health demise of women by refusing to acknowledge the only full proof way to avoid HPV or cervical cancer: abstinence.


The only full proof way to avoid HPV is abstinence. I'll buy that. Is HPV the ONLY cause of cervical cancer? I didn't know that.

I don't see any any reason to be against a vaccine that reduces such a serious threat.

If you want to be against promiscuous sex, fine. But to use the threat of a deadly disease to get women to have less sex seems cruel beyond description.

Some young women want to have sex before marriage. I don't have a problem with that. I sure don't want them to die from it.

Posted by: Hal at January 29, 2007 4:36 PM

I found your "solution" to be entirely unrealistic. Ms. Winokur is being realistic, you are not. You really think abstinence is going to suddenly spread across the world? Never has, never will. I think alerting women about HPV and letting them know that a vaccine is out there is exactly what we need. Seriously, give me a break. My coworkers I found your blog extremely disturbing.

Posted by: Megan at January 29, 2007 4:43 PM

Megan, I find it incredibly unrealistic to rely on modern medicine to save us from the numerous risks of promiscuity. That's like saying let's not discourage people from unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyles and eating disorders because hey, we can use medicine to negate the effects of all that! Just like eating must be kept in its proper place for good health, so must sex. And the proper place for sex is a monogamous marital relationship. Anything else is risking your life.

Hal, I don't know if Jill is right about HPV being the only cause of cervical cancer -- I never heard that before. But it is the only cause addressed by the vaccine. It's a vaccine for HPV, not cancer.

BTW, I am not against the vaccine, just like I'm not against treatment for any STD. I'm against ignoring the true cause. Vaccines are not 100%, just like other methods for avoiding STDs and pregnancy are not 100%. As long as we avoid the real issue we put women's lives at risk for no good reason. That's what I'm against.

Posted by: Michelle Potter at January 29, 2007 5:12 PM


It also surprised me to read in People, "Virtually all cervical cancers are caused by HPV."

But other sources concur. Merck, the manufacturer of the HPV vaccine, states, "This cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus which is transmitted during sexual intercourse." stated in 2003, "HPV is the sole cause of cervical cancer.

A BBC news report in 1999 stated, "Fresh evidence suggests that a virus may be the sole cause of cervical cancer - adding weight to calls for new tests and vaccines.... Researchers found traces of the human papillomavirus (HPV) present in 99.7% of cervical cancer tumours taken from 1,000 women."

Megan, HPV is but one STD (and People reported there are 100 types of that!). Wake up. Are you going to get a vaccination for Chlamydia
Gonorrhea, HIV, and Syphilis, Trichomoniasis and the 20+ other STDs, too?

World Health Organization reports there are 340 million new cases of STDs worldwide every year. Most STDs are asymptomatic in women. Who knows what you're walking around with?

Hal, I'm not surprised you have no problem with female promiscuous sex. You've given a prime demonstration of how the free love era has exploited women.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at January 29, 2007 6:43 PM

Jill, I'm not complaining about your positon on promiscuity, you're free to preach against it.

I just think the vaccine is a good idea, and will probably have my daughters vaccinated. It is not giving them permission to be promiscuous, they already know about the risks of pregnancy, STD's, etc.

For all I know, you can get HPV from your husband. So, I'd rather my girls are protected.

Posted by: Hal at January 29, 2007 6:58 PM

Hal, I agree one good reason to consider getting the HPV vaccine is in anticipation of marrying a man who has been sexually active.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at January 29, 2007 7:55 PM


you just do not seem (want) to understand the pro-life position. [This seems to be a huge stumbling block also for the sick/stupid pro-lifer in Jill's Jan. 29/07 blog.]

we assume an absolutely astounding value in all human life ... from conception and continuing until natural death. The framers of the American constitution said this value was intrinsic ... defined us as humans at conception ... [they really said: created by a Creator]. This value, we often characterize as precious.

Many pro-aborts wish to believe they can somehow negate or control this value, usually by negating the existence of God. However, when I studied chemistry some time ago ... if all the physical elements of the human body could be broken down and sold ... the price then was 8 cents. [At today's prices maybe 16 cents.]

We would never even consider that is all we are worth ... yep - Hal/8 cents; each of your daughters/8 cents; Bill Gates/8 cents; etc, etc! This leaves us with an alternative ... worth almost nothing or worth a whole universe of marvel ... beauty, joy, celebration, courage, peace and much more. Where are your daughters?

By calling for abstinence, Jill is placing your daughters in this universe and reverential of their being. You seem to wish them the deadness of science - it really is a form of non-existence this world of no value!

Posted by: John McDonell at January 30, 2007 9:04 AM

John, I agree that I do not alwlays understand the pro-life position. It's one reason I read what Jill has to say here. Many pro-choice people I think dismiss your views without any thought or examination. I start with the assumption that we are all decent people trying to live moral lives.

I am not a believer in abstinence until marriage. Nor would I condone rank promouscuity. Somewhere in between I think a young (or old) person can enjoy a healthy sexuality. I understand that for religous reasons some might disagree. On this issue, there is no need for all of us to behave or believe the same, just like some people want to keep a kosher household but are not offended that others don't.

Regarding the worth of a human, I don't think anyone judges that value based on the cost of the chemical elements. I don't think it's fair to say, either you believe in God, (or more specifically, this one particular God) or you must simply discount the value of human life to the chemical makeup alone. I value many people, primarly and to an infinite degree, my daughters.

I don't value them becuase they were created by God, I value their kindness, their creativity, love, and spirit. They give purpose to my life.

Posted by: Hal` at January 30, 2007 11:51 AM


thought so ... but this is kind of comforting love. That sort of love does not tend to last on life's edges (sure wish it did).

A few decades back, a very good friend was relating the events around her daughter. At 15 one of her best chums was murdered while on vacation. Her Mom (my chum) tried to support her daughter in her grief. Finally, her daughter said that her Mom just didn't get it. Her closing words to her Mom were: 'Mom, get a life!' This was a very pain-filled moment for her and the memories ...........

One's assessment often does alter in such 'edge' times!

Posted by: John McDonell at January 30, 2007 12:51 PM


maybe I should explain what I mean about 'edge'. Too often we teach ethics, but it really is moralizing about the best ethic is comfort and hedonism. We (especially religious folks) eulogize about 'living in poverty' but think little of the $30-$50 dropped on the weekly Lotto that seduces with winning extravagant wealth. So when confronted by a stark reality like death, we too often only repeat the phrasings of our-own morality. People suffering are often people-on-the-edge so, platitudes are just platitudes.

How is your conferred-value to carry your daughters when they are away from the home .... like if they are in a war zone? Will they be in conflict knowing that you believe in comfort, but their experiences are anything but comfortable? What do you say to console a daughter whose husbands' head has just been blown away when trying to save his buddies from a land-mine?

WW II was filled with such 'heroics'... on and off the battlefield.

Posted by: John McDonell at January 30, 2007 4:09 PM


I am following you, but not completely. I assume my daughters are comforted by my love, but they are also sustained by their own sense of who they are and their place in the world. I would try to console someone who suffered such a loss in all the usual ways. That's where you've lost me. Are you saying that without a belief in a higher power we are unable to console in meaningful way?

Posted by: Hal at January 30, 2007 6:15 PM

A person consoles in the manner most familiar. I have led a life on the edge and for some reason (quite beyond my control) every word or gesture is interpreted BY THE PERSON NEEDING CONSOLATION as consoling. I have seen over and over attempts to be consoling come shy-of-the-mark.

None of this was preplanned by me, but I do try to understand this strange phenomenon. I often offer peace and this is understood and cherished. I think that peace must be part of my being, to be accepted that way.

Hope this is starting to make some sense ... because my thoughts do tend to ramble.

Posted by: John McDonell at January 30, 2007 6:59 PM


I am profoundly moved by your passionate sense of your daughters' worth. But how does such translate outside your home ... to respecting them as humans? I am really interested because a beautiful friend of mine was murdered (apparently for no cause) as she was waiting for a bus. Does your value extend beyond you (or your kids') self-worth? On what basis do you project your intuitive-sense of this, to police ... the whole legal system ... a value beyond the 8 cents? This is the exact quandary that many atheists have, and so often embrace agnosticism over atheism.

Oh yeah .............. re. peace and religion. There is a huge difference between an intellectual proof for God's existence and faith ... another between faith and religion. [There is tons of space for variation .... much, much room!] Just one such variation: St. Paul says '... Jesus IS our peace'. Strange words: too often falsely understood as '... Jesus GIVES us peace'. Is peace a commodity?

Posted by: John McDonell at January 31, 2007 6:43 AM

Vaccinating our troops encourages terrorism. That seems to be Jill Stanek's logic.

Posted by: Yellow Dog Democrat at February 1, 2007 6:22 PM

"Vaccinating our troops encourages terrorism. That seems to be Jill Stanek's logic."

That would make perfect sense if the purpose of vaccinating our troops was to allow them to "safely" commit acts of terrorism.

Posted by: Michelle Potter at February 3, 2007 12:15 PM