I poke fun at her a lot, but her stupidity has an evil streak. To explain, I'll have to put in some background.
HPV is an acronym for human papillomavirus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “the most common sexually transmitted infection.” Some twenty million Americans carry the virus and there are about six million new cases each year. Most people never even know they have it, and simply fight it off with a normal immune-system response. But for some ten thousand women each year, HPV causes cervical cancer.
On February 2, 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed an executive order requiring Texas girls to receive a vaccine, which prevents the strand of HPV that leads to cervical cancer, before entering the sixth grade. Even though "mandatory", the law provided for an opt-out provision, if parents didn't want their daughter to get vaccinated.
But the opt-out provision wasn;t enough to prevent a backlash from the religious right, who raised the stupendously stupid (and unsupported) argument that "if you give the vaccine to young girls, they will be more inclined to have sex". And they wanted to control everybody's daughter.
Perry refused to reverse himself, essentially arguing his critics were on the wrong side of science. “If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it, claiming it would encourage smoking?” he said a few days after signing the order.
But it didn't matter. The Texas legislature overturned the executive order.
Last night, the issue came up in the GOP Presidential Debate. Michele Bachmann made the accusation:
I’m a mom. And I’m a mom of three children. And to have innocent little twelve-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. It’s a violation of a liberty interest.
That’s—little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan. They don’t get a do-over. The parents don’t get a do-over.
She also leveled the charge that Perry only signed the order because he had been "bought out" by the pharmaceutical manufacturers that produce the vaccine.
But that's not the point. The point is — Bachmann is claiming that the HPV vaccine, which can save women's lives, is "potentially dangerous".
Even after the debate, Bachmann upped the ante: she made an extreme claim on Fox News, saying that a mom in the debate audience told her that after receiving the vaccine her daughter became “retarded.” Bachmann repeated the claim this morning on “Today,” adding, “This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions.”
Money quote at 1:05…
Now, consider this for a moment.
Michelle Bachmann is getting on national television and linking a vaccine — a vaccine which can prevent cervical cancer — with mental retardation…. and it is based on something that some unknown lady told her. And Bachmann thinks she can do better than Obama on healthcare?
In fact, the only side effects of the HPV vaccines, branded as Cervarix and Gardasil, are, according to the C.D.C., “pain and redness where the shot is given” in the arm, “itching,” and mild or moderate fever.)
This is dangerous and irresponsible. And risks the lives of young girls whose parents, for whatever reason, will believe that Bachmann knows what she is talking about.
UPDATE: Seriously…. how crazy of a wingnut do you have to be when even Rush Limbaugh agrees with me?