Focus on the Family Hates You

Exador sent me a link about the approval–finally–of the HPV vaccine, which, as you recall, is very effective in preventing certain types of deadly cervical cancer caused by HPV, which is a virus almost everyone who’s had sex has been exposed to, even if they aren’t infected.  You’ll also recall that there was a great deal of opposition to this vaccine because some enormous jackasses thought that vaccinating girls against an incredibly common virus would encourage promiscuity.

That’s right.  There are folks out there who hate you so much that they believe that it is better for you to die of cancer than to chance that you might have sex with who ever you want when you want.  Because, my god, if sex doesn’t lead to pregnancy or death, Jesus weeps the tears of a thousand martyrs.

But what’s even sadder, in this article is this paragraph:

Conservative groups like Focus on the Family support availability of the vaccine, but oppose making it mandatory, saying the decision to vaccinate should rest with a child’s parents or guardians. It promotes abstinence as the best way of warding off infection by HPV and other STDs.

Where to even start?  Okay, let’s just forget that the public discussion about abstinence seems to assume that religious fanatics only want folks to remain abstinent while they’re young, when, really, they mean all of us should never have sex outside of marriage.

Let’s go with this.  Say that you are Miss Mary Sunshine and you are abstinent until marriage.  You really truly set that as a goal for yourself and you keep to it.  Your parents instilled “right” values in you and you stuck to them.  They also didn’t vaccinate you, because they believed that it would encourage promiscuity.  (I wonder if Focus on the Family is opposed to mandatory MMR vaccines?  I mean, is this really about parental choice or is it about “fixing” promiscuity?)

You meet a nice boy, Johnny Faltered a Couple of Times in College.  He wasn’t promiscuous.  He had sex with two girls, each of whom were serious girlfriends.  It wasn’t God’s plan, but boys will be boys.

He has the virus.  He doesn’t know it.  He gives it to Miss Mary.  She gets cancer and dies.

Is Focus on the Family okay with that? 

If so, I think this indicates an enormous shift in their “sluts must be punished” campaign.  Before, we had to be punished for our bad behavior–either through children or horrid disease.  But now, even if we behave, we have to be punished for our partner’s bad behavior.

So, men, the new word seems to be, don’t slut around or God will kill your virgin bride.

29 thoughts on “Focus on the Family Hates You

  1. I have a hard time condemning anyone who says they support the availability of a vaccine, but oppose the idea of the government telling them what to stick their kid with.You seem to trust the government more. I would want the decision left to the parents.Keep in mind, the article also said that the vaccine could contribute to the growth of lesions that lead to cancer, There could be a downside to getting the vaccine. Again, something for a parent to make a decision about.

  2. Yes, there is in some circles a general anti-vaccine militancy (yes, even about MMR and chickenpox vaccines) that goes hand-in-hand with other anti-gubbermint ideas. It’s one thing that moms on the far left and far right agree on. However, the US Supreme Court decided in 1905 (Jacobsen v Commonwealth of Massachusetts, y’all) that the states have the right to make you participate in mandatory vaccinations if public health compels such mandatory measures and that one does not have the right to be a "free rider" (using the vaccinations of others to maintain one’s own health without undergoing the risks that others in one’s society undertake). Likewise, there is a point at which parental control of the wellbeing of their offspring becomes secondary to the best interests of the kid — as in cases where believers in faith healing are letting their children die Providentially rather than pursuing conventional medical treatment. This includes vaccination — see, for example, Cude v State (Arkansas, 1964). One’s religious liberty doesn’t extend to legimating neglect, especially when not getting the vaccines means the kids can’t go to school. If state legislatures mandate that all girls entering 5th grade must have the HPV vaccine to attend public schools, then persons who choose not to vaccinate will have an uphill road to demonstrate why their daughters should be exempted.

  3. I have gone straight to the horse’s mouth, to see if they endorsed a libertarian position (which I believe would be that all vaccination decisions should be left up to the individual, not the government) or if they endorsed a "sluts deserve bad things" position (meaning that they encourage parents to immunize their children according to government standards as long as it doesn’t make life easier for sluts).Let’s see which it is. When talking about the hepatitis B vaccine, Focus on the Family says:"Some parents have expressed strong reservations to this procedure on the grounds that hepatitis B is presumably a sexually transmitted disease only, and thus a vaccination would assume sexual promiscuity on the part of the child. Others simply feel that a mandatory hepatitis B vaccination represents another infringement on their parental rights. However, a brief overview of the dangers of hepatitis B indicates that a vaccination is a necessary precaution which is actually no different than any other school-required immunization."The position statement then goes on to explain how one can find out if he or she can opt out of immunizing their child., when it comes to HPV, sanity is right out the window:"The seriousness of HPV and other STIs underscores the significance of God’s design for sexuality to human wellbeing. Thus, Focus on the Family affirms–above any available health intervention–abstinence until marriage and faithfulness after marriage as the best and primary practice in preventing HPV and other STIs.", they come right out and say that sexually transmitted diseases are so bad because of God’s design for sexuality–if you slut around, you will be punished.I cannot believe, for a second, that "if you slut around, you will be punished" is a libertarian tenet. But maybe Sarcastro gives me the wrong books to read.But Focus on the Family encourages compliance with government regulations, even as they give you information about how to circumvent it, except in this case, where they don’t want the government to require it, basically because it’s God’s will that sluts are punished.

  4. Aunt B,It is disingenuous of you to quote that line, and leave the following text out:This said, two pharmaceutical manufacturers – Merck and GlaxoSmithKline – have developed HPV vaccine products that are currently being tested. Merck’s vaccine provides immunity for four subtypes of HPV and is intended for use by both men and women. GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine targets two strains of the virus and is intended for women only. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is necessary before either vaccine will be available to the public. At this point, testing indicates that both vaccines are safe, effective and cannot cause HPV infection.Recognizing the worldwide detriment to individuals and families resulting from HPV, Focus on the Family supports and encourages the development of safe, effective and ethical vaccines against HPV, as well as other viruses. The use of these vaccines may prevent many cases of cervical cancer, thus saving the lives of millions of women across the globe.Therefore, Focus on the Family supports widespread (universal) availability of HPV vaccines but opposes mandatory HPV vaccinations for entry to public school. The decision of whether to vaccinate a minor against this or other sexually transmitted infections should remain with the child’s parent or guardian. As in all areas of sexual health and education, Focus on the Family upholds parents’ right to be the primary decision maker and educator for their children.

  5. Exador, you;re reading what you want to even more than B is. They are not invoking parents’ rights because they don’t believe in the government, like your libertarian eyes wish. They are invoking them because they disagree with too much of what the government accepts in human behavior and attitude and they are worried about living in a non-Christian society. These are people who also work to change the government laws to promote their strict Christian values, not just circumvent or limit the government. They can vacinate the children at a young age, when the kids don’t even know one vaccine from another, and still teach abstinence. What if a child is raped? They want the opportunity for her/him to get more diseases even though it is easily avoided?

  6. How is that disingenuous? I left it out because I was trying to be concise. But it still proves my point. Their position is that STDs are a proper punishment for sluts and it’s not the goverment’s place to mandate something that could save lives when it might conflict with a family’s belief that STDs are a proper punishment for sluts.

  7. Look, I’m no fan of theocrats; I’m not even christian. All, I’m saying is that they come right out and say,"both vaccines are safe, effective and cannot cause HPV infection.""Focus on the Family supports and encourages the development of safe, effective and ethical vaccines against HPV"I think YOU GUYS are the ones reading in more than is there.

  8. Okay, let me try again. I concede and never argued that Focus on the Family was opposing the HPV vaccine.Instead, my point is that they are opposed to making the vaccine manditory not out of some great libertarian commitment to getting the government to butt out–or else they would be more supportive of people not wanting to vaccinate their kids in general. Instead, they encourage folks to follow the law.They are opposed to making the vaccine manditory because "The seriousness of HPV and other STIs underscores the significance of God’s design for sexuality to human wellbeing." Because they believe that, if you think that sex outside of marriage deserves punishment of some sort, who is the government to make it easier for your kids to escape that?

  9. Ok I am going to come at this question from a whole different angle. Money.There are two significant revenue streams that will occur from the development of this vaccine.1. How much profit do you think the developers of this vaccine stand to make if it becomes mandatory for all women?all men? or both. That’s a nice little pre-determined number for the bottom line and a captive audience that just continues on and on.2. Preventive care and disease management for Insurers. Which do you think the insurance company would rather pay for- the preventative vaccine or the high cost of cancer treatment? Again look at the bottom line.Religious groups can complain all they want to and campaign against the percieved morality issue against this vaccine, but who do you think has more lobbyists and government pull? I haven’t even figured in the cost savings to government funded healthcare such as Medicare and Medicaid.Money trumps morality everytime. Don’t fool yourselves or get all worked up about it. It’s a done deal already.

  10. No matter which version of the truth we go with: FoF being anti-slut or FoF being anti-government, what does it ultimately matter?People within their own private lives have every right to believe what they want without being nanny’d by someone else. I’m the original save-it-till-the-wedding Miss Mary Sunshine here. I’d still get the vaccine for myself and my child if my doctor advised. But only then. When it comes to chemicals shot into my body I tend to trust only my own informed judgment based upon the guidance of medical professionals. I don’t listen to any agenda-driven advocacy groups from either political stripe. Yet I firmly believe the government has NO business telling people what chemicals to ingest in their bodies. Bodies are unique and as such respond differently to varied stimuli. For instance, I’m allergic to the flu vaccine. If I take it I get vomiting and seizures. 99.9% of people don’t respond this way. My allergy is not to the vaccine itself but to the transport solution in which the vaccine is harboured. Every time someone on the news talks about "get your flu shot!" I grind my teeth. Because what seems simple to some people is not a simple solution universally. Hence, both the government and the advocacy groups need to tone down their universalist rhetoric on medicines.

  11. Come on, Kat. PUBLIC health is not a nanny state. We’re talking about diseases that are transmitted between people via very common contact. The system doesn’t work when each person isolates (in the minds, but not their bodies) and thinks she can take care of herself alone. You’re lucky that many people do get flu vaccines if you cannot. If less people get the flu, then you are less likely to get it as well. You said it yourself 99.9% is a HUGE number. And, the flu vaccine is not mandatory anyhow. If it becomes so, I imagine you’ll have no difficulty getting a doctor to give you an exemption. You did it once; you learned. Now you don’t need to do it anymore. When the news people talk, listen as if you are the other 99.9% of the population, not the rare exception. Public policy and science consider exceptions and make decisions anyhow. B, didn’t mean to imply that you were misreading. The sentence was supposed to read " Exador, you;re reading what you want to even more than YOU THINK B is." Sorry.

  12. Something you are conveniently skipping over in your comparison of FoF’s dealing with Hepatitus B and HPV is the ease with which the diseases are spread. You left off the other portion of their statement on Hep B,"Unlike many other viruses (such as HIV), hepatitis B is viable on environmental surfaces for up to seven days, and indirect inoculation can occur via objects."Don’t you think that the ability for the disease to spread should be considered when deciding if a particular vaccine should be mandatory or voluntary?

  13. Ex, you like to fight just for the sake of fighting, don’t you? I have to say, I, for one, like to pretend that you find arguing with me to be sexy, because you like smart women.Anyway, enough of my fantasy life, let’s get down to facts–via Rachel ( we peruse the .gov’s take on things ( and they say, "HPV (human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted virus. It is passed on through genital contact (such as vaginal and anal sex). It is also passed on by skin-to-skin contact. At least 50% of people who have had sex will have HPV at some time in their lives."If one in two of us will have it, it sounds like it must be damn easy to get.Whereas for hepatitis B, according to .gov, "approximately 1.25 million Americans are chronically infected with the HBV virus," which, as you know, is not half of all sexually active adults (

  14. Something I’m pondering, but don’t have an answer to… A huge chunk of the people the HPV vaccine works best for are minors. The parents typically have the right to decide on care on their behalf. But with this virus, the girls are up for a lifetime of potential exposure, and possible cancer. If the parents refuse vaccination, it may be too late by the time the girl is legally allowed to make her own medical decisions. How does the question of mandatory or not play into that? How liable are the parents for future outcomes? Just kicking it around…

  15. I’m sorry if you interpret my logical, reasoned analysis of the facts vs your hysterical, emotion-driven feminist jihad to be "fighting"(I kid. I just felt like getting wordy, and giving Bridget and Rachel a momentary fit. All in fun, right ladies? Don’t picket my house.)Anyhoo,You have not addressed the central issue, which is "how is the virus transmitted?". Is it generally by direct genital contact, or is it frequently (like Hep B) by random contact of persons or objects. This is significant in the discussion of whether the vaccine should be mandatory or voluntary.You have to be very careful before you start forcing people to inject an untested chemical into their kids’ bodies.

  16. I’m trying to eat lunch, here. It’s very difficult to laugh at you and eat lunch at the same time.First, "untested." It’s been through rigorous testing.Second, please, Mr. Non-Christian Libertarian, enlighten me as to why which pieces of skin need to rub together in order for the virus to be transmitted makes any difference as to whether the vaccine should be mandatory or voluntary. I’m dying to hear your justification for that.

  17. Prof, you are correct about public health. I guess I am still mulling over the inherent problems of deciding if individualism trumps the right of society or vice versa. I tend to believe that it does. But if you’re the one dude who brings smallpox raging back, then I can see how that’s a bad thing.

  18. It comes down to the "mandatory" part. If you are going to force something on people, the burden of proof is on you that they can’t protect themselves from the virus. If the virus can be picked up from anywhere, there is no avoiding it. That’s not the same thing as "punishment", especially since the vaccine is available.

  19. This virus can be picked up from anywhere. 50% of sexually active people have it. Most of them don’t know it.So, it seems to me that if half of everyone I’d care to fuck might have something that can give me cancer that will kill me and if they probably don’t even know they have it, then the easiest thing to do is to just say that everyone has to get vaccinated against it.People can’t protect themselves from something that the people carrying it don’t even know that they have.

  20. "People can’t protect themselves from something that the people carrying it don’t even know that they have."How is this different from the government saying it’s okay to listen into private phone calls? Isn’t essentially saying that the individual can never be fully aware of the threat, so the individual cannot guard against the threat properly therefore the government must do the guarding?

  21. What about the kids that really do remain virgins until they marry someone from their church that ALSO chooses to remain a virgin until marriage.Why are you forcing those kids to get your wonder-shot?

  22. I hate to pile on here but "rigorous testing" it ain’t. Look at the hubbub surrounding childhood vacines that have been in use for generations such as MMR which a vocal minority believe are causing autism (a connection that is tenuous at best and for which there is no real scientific support, but is believed nonetheless) – now you want to take a chemical, that has been studied for a hand full of years and force parents to have it injected into their kids? There have been no long term studies of the efficacy of this compound, nor have their been any long term studies as to long term complications. Look at DES, which does not show its complications until the girls born of the women who took it were sterile or had any other number of problems.Also, have there been any studies to test its impact on boys? Men carry HPV as frequently, if not more frequently than women, and the only way to reduce the rates of passing is if men are treated as well but has Merck or Glaxo looked at its impact to us?Also, also to address the issue of funding, cervical cancer, while tragic, is not a really big problem (in the grand scheme of things, and I certainly don’t mean to minimize its impact on any one individual) but a course of HPV vacine costs $500 per person, to give it, mandatorily, to enough people to make a difference would be a monumentally expensive undertaking that may not be worth the relatively few lives saved.The point is, we never really know what any of the crap we put into ourselves will do. The decision to give any medication should be a personal one, made by a parent in the case of a child. While all parents should be allowed to make the choice and should be given all available information with which to decide, it simply should not be mandatory.

  23. Hmm…I would say it’s vastly different because the government in this case is not violating your right to privacy or your explicity constitutional rights. It’s not saying "we’re going to poke into your body without your knowledge to see if you have this virus and never tell you that we’ve been rooting around."Encouraging everyone who doesn’t have a good excuse otherwise to get the vaccine isn’t a gross violation of the public’s trust and explicity violating the Constitution.Plus, it’s something the government can do without having to be aware of the particularities of your situtation. It makes a sweeping mandate that is good for almost all of us.I want the government to respect my rights as an individual, but I don’t want to come to its attention, nor do I think it has any business thinking of me, as a specific individual.

  24. Exador, because here in the real world, not everyone has complete control over when or who they have sex with. A woman can have every intention of never fucking anyone but her husband and still end up finding that there are jackasses in the world who have other ideas.LE, I’m not saying you don’t make valid points, but I also don’t believe that the vast majority of people who would choose not to vaccinate their kids would do so out of principled reasons, but instead because they’re lazy or they want to save the money.If certain things aren’t manditory, how do you protect children from asshole parents?If there are exceptions in place for people with religious or philosophical problems (as there are now), then what’s wrong with insisting that people provide a minimum standard of care for their children, including protecting them from deadly diseases?

  25. <I>I also don’t believe that the vast majority of people who would choose not to vaccinate their kids would do so out of principled reasons, but instead because they’re lazy or they want to save the money.</I>I’m leaving the room before some of the wild-eyed anti-vaccine parents show up. Those people are some SERIOUS zealots.

  26. Hey, I respect people’s DECISION not to vaccinate their children, don’t get me wrong. But what I mean is, if all vaccinations are suddenly up to the parent alone, most of the kids who aren’t vaccinated are going to be un-vaccinated because its mildly inconvenient for their parents, not because their parents have strong beliefs about the matter.I’m supposed to get my oil changed every 3,000 miles, but sometimes I spend the money on beer or a dinner out instead.I don’t think I’m that different from other folks.

  27. LE, there are studies on men happening right now. But it’s the women who are dying, so they started there and have expanded with an increase in knowledge. DES, if I knew what that is, might be a good example. But MMR is not because, as you admit, there’s no link between it and autism. Only those zealots still think that. That example supports the widespread use of the HPV vaccine.I don’t know where the $500 figure came from, but I’ve read that they are charging $120 a shot X 3 shots = $360. And, that’s what the company is setting the price at right now. That doesn’t mean that’s what they would charge to insurance or the government, if they were guaranteed significant sales. Still, all the discussion has been about the government and mandatory vaccinations. That is so irritating! Do you understand what has transpired to even get this vaccine available? Do you understand that in the voluntary state that has finally arrived maybe thousands of lives might be saved? Nonetheless, some people and organizations are still upset and are fighting pre-emptive wars based not on science and medical health but on morality and money, fights that make it more confusing for women and families to make well-informed decisions right now.

  28. When I received my horribly disfiguring Polio vaccination, it was highly unlikely I’d ever contract the disease. However, it was required for admission to public schools. I’m fairly sure my parents never thought twice about it. We have tv commercials about "living with herpes," but I’ve yet to see a telathon.

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