Would cancer vaccine lead to free love?

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Day Care & Education

A number of states are considering making the new HPV vaccine mandatory for pre-teen girls. California is one of them. Yesterday, however, the lawmaker that proposed the bill, Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-Baldwin Park (Los Angeles County), pulled it after an hour of intense questioning from other committee members. Susan Wagner looked at the political aspects of the vaccine earlier today, and other members of our team will likely be chiming in as well.

There are indeed a lot of issues surrounding this, but the one that interests me most is the response from some conservative groups -- they seem to feel that by reducing the risk of this sexually transmitted disease, teenagers will feel free to become sexually active. There is actually a term for this, according to Time Magazine. It's "disinhibition", defined by the CDC as "an increase in unsafe behaviors in response to perceptions of safety caused by introduction of a preventive or therapeutic intervention."

To me, this seems pretty bogus. If you tell a teenage girl that she's getting a vaccination to prevent a virus that leads to cervical cancer, she's not going to think "Woohoo! Now I can go have sex all the time!" My concern, actually, based on how well teenagers listen to adults is that what she'd actually hear is "blah vaccination blah blah prevent blah blah cancer" and then would think "Woohoo! I can't get cancer! Now I can start smoking!" Let's face it, kids don't really care about viruses or how they are transmitted, and they certainly don't need an excuse to have sex -- all they need is a willing partner.

Even if it did lead to increased sex among teenagers, however, is that really such a bad trade-off? As Bill Maher put it in his "New Rules" segment, recently, "If you don't think your daughter getting cancer is worse than your daughter having sex, you're doing it wrong."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.