One would think that out of all the things in this great spinning, swirling, Shake Weighting world of ours, cancer prevention would be the one cause that everyone — no matter what funny hat they think God told them to wear — could get behind. But one dogged Canadian Bishop has bravely gone against the grain, fighting cervical cancer prevention for women by banning HPV vaccines for female students at Calgary Catholic schools on the grounds that protecting girls against cervical cancer will lead to promiscuity.
A little background: Some Canadian provinces provide grants to schools so that girls enrolled can receive the Gardasil vaccine for free on school grounds. But religious schools have been resistant to include girls enrolled there in the program, especially in Alberta. When the program was announced in 2008, school officials in Calgary sent information on the vaccine home to parents along with a strongly worded letter from brave pro-cancer Bishop Frederick Henry and five of his non-cervix possessing cronies, who warned parents that immunizing girls from the virus that leads to cervical cancer would expose their children to "counterproductive influences and potential abuse."
How very Rick Santorum of them.
Because of the vaccine's unfortunate "drug may cause middle school girls to immediately fall on the nearest dick they see" side effect, the publicly funded school board governing Calgary Catholic schools has declined to give students HPV vaccinations on the grounds that it violates their religion. For as Jesus said to Peter, "Lo, a woman who carries HPV deserves to die of cancer, because that's just how I roll. Amen."
In response to the Calgary district's move and the Bishop's dubious edict, health experts, doctors, and activists have banded together to form a task force called HPV Calgary, which is designed to convince the Church to stop addressing real problems by pretending that reality doesn't exist. They've been trying — unsuccessfully — to work with the school district for over a year, and yesterday publicly called on the district to take some sort of action by Saturday. One physician on the task force explained to the National Post,
In the letters from the physicians to the trustees, the word ‘children' is used three times at least per letter. In the letters of response from the trustees they use the word ‘bishop' three times per letter. They have delegated their decision making to a non-elected official without expertise in evidence-based medicine or public health.
Psh. When has the modern church cared about evidence?
The Church insists that vaccinating female students on school grounds is akin to endorsing premarital sex, but HPV Calgary points out that there are plenty of non-consensual ways that girls can get HPV. Rape, for example, or sexual abuse (two topics with which the Church should by now be intimately familiar). In addition, girls who do not get the HPV vaccine at school are unlikely to get it at all, especially if they're poor, or children of immigrants, or otherwise disenfranchised.
Per usual, the Church does not appear to care, nor does it seem poised to budge on the issue of protecting women who don't live by the Church's law. If you're a woman and you fuck, then fuck you.