HPV Vaccine: A Litmus Test for Sanity?

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 6:10 PM EST

If nothing else, Merck's new HPV vaccine is good fun because it pits sane against insane conservatives. Sally Lieber—a liberal Democrat who caused some to question her sanity when she introduced a bill criminalizing spanking—rang the bout bell in the California legislature when she introduced a bill requiring vaccination for public schoolgirls.

Arnold, a sane if annoying conservative, has said nothing, but included $11.3 million for the program in his 2007-2008 budget.

Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), apparently coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, called HPV the result of lifestyle decisions, not contagion. "Is there a more productive way for us to spend the money that may help someone who's in a health situation that has nothing to do with their personal choices?" he asked, according to the LA Times.

Couldn't any contagious disease be called the result of personal choices—like swimming in a certain pool, being poor, attending public school, etc.? Fully half of sexually active people contract some form of HPV in their lifetimes—and that's not unmarried or promiscuous sexually active people, that's all sexually active people.

The vaccine may or may not be the miracle drug it's been cracked up to be (largely by maker Merck), but the more conservatives hoot and holler, the more it looks like a reasonable idea.

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