The HPV Controversy

I was a news reporter for years and when I wasn’t reporting it, I anchored  newscasts.  I was inundated with news..I was swimming in it daily, which left me feeling news water-logged. As result,  I rarely watch the news these days which means I am completely out of the loop and oh so unenlightened.   Frankly, I’d rather keep it that way. 

So, when a friend sent me an email about the recent GOP debates and how Michelle Bachman tried to rip Texas Governor, Rick Perry a new one for signing an Executive Order in 2007  requiring middle-school girls to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, I decided to get involved with this story.    I mean, I am a native Texan and vested in all things Texas.  And once involved, I tend to get into the facts and wallow in them.

And here’s what I’m wallowing in these days.

It’s been proven that HPV vaccinations prevent some 70 percent of the instances of cervical cancer in women.    Recent evidence also supports giving the vaccine to young men — to protect their sexual partners and the men themselves from  warts.   But here’s the deal and what probably motivated Perry’s decision, at least in part:  the vaccinations have to be given to young people before they’re exposed to the virus, which means before they are sexually active. The vaccine is substantially more effective in girls aged 9 to 11 than in older girls or young women.

 Why didn’t Bachman know this BEFORE thinking the vaccine info would be a salvo that could sink Perry’s ship, The USS GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.     She’s misguided in her thinking that this vaccine might give young women the impression that it’s okay to have sex at an early age?   The  prevention  of genital warts with a link to cancer could possibly serve as a motivation to hop in the sack????

I think not, especially since there are so many other STD’s out there that can kill you….not to mention the kind of death that can occur when an angry dad gets even angrier that his 15-year-old is pregnant by some pimple- faced, 16 year-old metal shop reject.   

I doubt seriously Bachman really cares about the young girls of Texas or HPV or its link to cancer.   She merely used that in an attempt to take the political spotlight off  Perry and instead paint him into a very ugly corner.    She used the vaccine as a prelude to an upper cut.  

BACKGROUND:  The Texas Legislature shot down Perry’s attempts to mandate the vaccine.  A  major beneficiary of the order would have been the drug company Merck, which manufactures the vaccine Gardasil, and employed former Perry  Chief of Staff, Mike Toomey as a lobbyist.    Merck  has also made a series of small contributions to Perry’s campaign over the years–in amounts in the neighborhood of $3000 each time.   Not a huge amount by any means.

Perry has expressed regret for attempting to implement a vaccine mandate through executive order and offers a simple explanation for why he tried in the first place.

He said, “I hate cancer.”   A spokesman for the governor’s presidential campaign, said the whole incident stemmed from Perry having “erred on the side of life.”

That was actually a move well-played by Perry.  He’s been a staunch supporter of “right to life” issues here in Texas and by claiming his intentions were life based, keeps him viable  and makes this “political hiccup” one more easily shoved under the rug,  providing, of course, you support Perry.  And even if you don’t support Perry, you HAVE to admit that on this matter, Bachman is wrong and Perry is right…even if technically he made the correct decision  allegedly for all the wrong reasons.  But this decision, regardless or how or why it was reached would have saved lives in the long run.

As for Perry, No other state has implemented a HPV policy as aggressive as the one Perry tried to put forward in Texas. The connections between Toomey and  Merck should make one think and yes, even  force  questions about Perry’s decision-making.    But it hasn’t….not really.  

A source within the ranks of religious Republicans  said he hasn’t  heard a tweet, a peep or a comment about HPV anywhere and to him, that means there’s growing consensus among the leaders in evangelical circles, that Rick Perry is the best candidate.

As for Bachman?  Well, she won’t let the matter die and considering the backlash, she really should.  Yet, she still contends,  days after the debate that Perry abused his power as governor  and rewarded political donors, just like President Obama. 

“It’s wrong to abuse executive authority with unilateral action, and of course the governor of Texas admitted as much that he made a mistake,” Bachman told reporters after holding a recent rally in Costa Mesa . “People don’t want a president or a governor making decisions based on political connections. It’s wrong.”

And to make matters worse, it’s been reported that  Bachman supposedly linked the vaccine to mental retardation.  Medical experts had a fit over that comment and soundly disputed the claim, calling it both irresponsible and dangerous.  According to the CDC, even among people who have the most severe reactions, the vaccine does not cause cognitive disability whatsoever.

Bachman has repeatedly refused to back down, saying she’d heard from a mother whose daughter experienced such a reaction.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist. I was just relating what the woman had told me about her daughter,” she said.

When asked if she’d apologize, she said she wouldn’t answer that question.  

Oh really???   And why not???????    Man, talk about picking a very unwise battle. 

Again, I will reiterate– I’m a Texan, but  NOT a Perry advocate and I like Bachman even less.  She seems rife with artiface…like  a Disney creations’ one of those automons in the Hall of Presidents at Disney Land,  but much less life-like.    And I feel she really stepped in it this time.  It’ll be Perry, not Bachman who’ll triumph here in the end.  Perry will more than likely come out of this smelling like a  rose, Bachman will be lucky if she can emerge smelling as good as a Skunk Cabbage.    Which trust me, is vile.

Now, there are people who might not get vaccinated, all because they listened to an ignorant presidential hopeful  who decided an unfounded comment from a woman she didn’t know was good enough info on which she could launch her attack.   

And make no mistake;  that she attacked Perry was fine.  That’s  political strategy; what she used as weaponry was incredibly  irresponsible.  She should be ashamed of herself. 

Michelle Bachman  may be the Tea Party’s darling, but it’s going to be tough towing the party line and repeating the necessary rhetoric to stay on top, with her own  foot in her mouth. 

Frankly, I hope it stays there.  More lives might be saved.


  1. Oh where to begin….I actually liked Bachmann until this topic came up in the debate. Did I feel she could win? No. Have I contributed to her campaign? No. Am I a Perry supporter-I voted for him but haven’t been a huge fan. I actually like him more after these debates than I have in the past. I think he has taken a total of $30,000 from Merck-I know LK it was a typo cause you don’t make mistakes. In the scheme of things it was a relatively minuscule amount of money. Perry is not an establishment Republican. I like that. As for the mandatory vaccine-I’m okay as long as there was an “opt out” in place. If you have an “opt in” no one will ever do it. Wasn’t the polio vaccine & MMR mandatory? Not sure-all I know was I had to drink some polio stuff in grade school & had to go get a vaccination when I was a kid before I could go to school & both the scab & scar lasted a WHILE. With that said, I don’t think Perry did anything that hasn’t been done before except offer an opt out policy. The biggest reason I’d like to see him win the nomination? I’d like to see him chest bump Obama. Like a bull hitting a calf…..


    Herb, this is actually a verbatim of what I wrote in the blogpost:

    Merck has also made a series of small contributions to Perry’s campaign over the years–in amounts in the neighborhood of $3000 each time. Not a huge amount by any means.

    I didn’t put the grand total…which was roughly 30K. Perhaps, I should have, but I didn’t. .

    I’m not a Perry fan by any means, but I like him more than Romney, certainly more than Bachman and Ron Paul scares me. It would be nice to see another Texas Governor back in the Oval Office…and a Republican, too. That would be an exercise in “just desserts” which would be sweet indeed.


  2. Interesting. I posted about the exact same thing today. Come by for a read if you’d like… seems like you and I are on the same page. Well, not blog page, but, like, life-approach page. And I was stunned that I found myself cheering for Rick Perry. But there it was. Because frankly, when it comes to the HPV vaccine, he’s not wrong.

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