Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Michele Bachmann, cervical cancer's BFF

Michele Bachmann is still defending her opposition to the vaccine that prevents HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer. At a campaign event in Sheldon, Iowa on Monday night, she sympathized with a mother who believes her daughter Jessica, now 16, has been debilitated by headaches, pains and seizures brought on by the vaccine three years ago and can no longer attend school.

"Michele, on behalf of myself and a lot of other mothers that have a child that’s sick from the Gardasil vaccine, I would like to thank you for the attention that you brought to it," Julie Wepple said, according to the Des Moines Register.

Bachmann thanked Wepple for bringing up the vaccine issue. "Parents have to make that decision for their kids because it isn't the schools that are going to follow up with Jessica," she said. "It isn’t the schools that live with Jessica every day. It’s Jessica who’s having to have her body live with the ravages of this vaccine."

I sympathize with Ms. Wepple, but... please. This is all Bachmannesque conspiracy theory. Here's what I wrote after Bachmann raised the issue back in September:

After the debate, she sent out "a fundraising appeal," as the WaPo reports, claiming that the HPV vaccine, already opposed on the right for supposedly promoting promiscuity, can lead to "mental retardation." There is good reason to call out Perry, who mandated the vaccine in Texas, for his connections to the vaccine's maker, the pharmaceutical giant Merck, but Bachmann's claim is completely unfounded, just the sort of claim you can expect from a rampant conspiracy theorist like her. Even if you're suspicious of Big Pharma (as I am), even if you think that some vaccines are unnecessary and possibly worse (as I do, though I'm hardly anti-pharma and consider most vaccines to be essential to good health), it takes a leap into the chasm of craziness to think that this particular vaccine, Gardisil, causes "mental retardation." There may be side effects, of course, as there are with all drugs, but Gardisil would appear to be safe. My conservative friend Ed Morrissey acknowledges this, and Dear Leader Rush actually said that Bachmann had jumped the shark (as if this was finally the last straw).

Of course in Bachmann's view, there is no shark.

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