Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ideological Hysteria Blocking Public Health

Earlier this week Wisconsin Right to Life put out a press release warning the public about the attacking killer stem cells. OK, all joking aside. They did say that stem cells are "dangerous", "uncontrollable" and that they can possibly produce tumors. Huh? Granted I am not a scientist doing stem cell research in my basement, but something sounds a bit like hysteria here. If Wisconsin Right to Life is going to release such outrageous claims, perhaps they should direct us to the research that they are relying on. That is if it exists from an independent source.

This is only the latest local example of the extreme right wing using scare tactics, myth and hype rather than science and reason.

On the national stage we have another case of ideological extremism blocking advancement, health, and the public good. AlterNet has the full story:
The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel approved a vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV) last week. The vaccine appears to be 100 percent effective at protecting against the most prevalent viruses that cause cervical cancer. While public health professionals view the vaccine as miraculous, many conservative organizations oppose it on the grounds that it might encourage promiscuity among adolescent girls. Now that the FDA has approved the vaccine, conservatives are already working feverishly to limit or even prevent its use.

The pharmaceutical giant Merck produced the vaccine, known as Gardasil, which will be nothing short of a lifesaver for countless women. Cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer killer among women in America, striking nearly 14,000 each year. Of those, nearly 4,000 die. Poor women and women of color will benefit the most from the vaccine, as Latino and black women suffer the highest rates of cervical cancer. Lower-income women typically lack the funds and health insurance necessary to have regular screenings for HPV.

According to the story, right wing groups like the Family Research Council and the Physicians Consortium are fighting full approval of the vaccine. A member of the latter explains that if women really want to avoid such diseases, they should simply not have sex.

I’m sure that Wisconsin Right to Life might agree with this position, although the subject does not appear prominent on their website. I’d like to confirm how they feel. Better yet, I’d like to ask a few questions of the two politicians that they have endorsed in statewide races.

Do you believe that stem cells are “dangerous” and “uncontrollable”?
Are you against the full approval of the lifesaving Gardasil vaccine?

Voters deserve the courtesy of an answer on these important questions. The media should have the courage to pin them down on these issues.


krshorewood said...

They should really change their name to Wisconsin Right to Lie. For such a "morallity" based group, they really do a great job of bearing false witness.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a story a couple of weeks back about how stem cells could cause some side effects? I can't remember and it's not really that important to me.

We are talking about embryonic stem cells. I'm fairly sure WRTL has no opposition to adult stem cells.