September 18, 2011

Michelle Bachmann on Our Girls' Healthcare - Take a Stand!

Art Caplan and DSW students at the School of Social Policy and Practice
I am privileged have been in class yesterday with famed bioethicist Arthur Caplan.  His jovial nature by no means masks or underplays his steadfast commitment to medical ethics.  Case in point, Caplan this week took on a candidate for the GOP nomination for president, Michelle Bachmann.  She very irresponsibly and ignorantly misspoke about the side effects of the HPV vaccine Gardasil.  Bachmann stated as reported on the Iowa Caucuses website that "she met a woman whose daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of the vaccine... [t]here are very dangerous consequences."

Beyond the absolute absurdity of her statements which hold no medical or scientific accuracy, she is doing great harm to girls and young women nationally! Bachmann, through fear, is potentially taking away a powerful tool that could be of great benefit to girls. Take a look at this video!

How can we help in this situation?  We need more individuals, groups and community organizations to not let politicians, people of power and women to use reckless political tactics! Here are the facts:

1. There have been no reported major side effects such as "mental retardation" or death from the HPV vaccine.
2. You can not acquire mental retardation as a side effect!
3. 40 years ago cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer related death among women.  
4.  Today protective measures such as the Pap test (or Pap smear) which screens for cervical cancer greatly reduces the risk of death.
5. Get tested annually!
6. HPV - the human papilloma virus - is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) where certain strands of the virus cause cancer.
7. Though abstinence is one way to protect yourself from a STD like HPV, it may (unfortunately) not always be in your control or ways in which you chose to engage in sexual relations change. Protect yourself.
8. Education is key to prevention! Know the facts and share them!
9. Speak out against misinformation and abuse of power such as Bachmann's or any other so called "figure of authority."
10. Share this post and others like it widely on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites!

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