It’s the God-squad vs. freedom

    1st Lowy God Squad America launched yet another offensive in its secular jihad against the formerly free US-of-A this week. The target this time: preteen girls to whom the religiously consumed would deny a vaccine that promises 100 percent protection against cervical cancer.

    What’s the objection? Preteen girls might interpret a vaccination as a “you go, girl” sign for having wanton, unending, carefree, premarital sex.

    What? It’s true. Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline announced late last month they have developed a vaccine that protects against strains of a germ called the human papilloma virus (or HPV). Although most strains of HPV are innocuous, some can cause lesions on the cervix that become cancerous.

    And it’s transmitted how? Skin on skin. During sex. Males can carry the virus. But only in females does it morph into cervical cancer.

    Cervical cancer used to be the No. 1 cancer-killer among American women. Then came the Pap smear, the screening procedure that saved hundreds of thousands of lives and trimmed death rates from cervical cancer dramatically. The disease still strikes more than 14,000 U.S. women each year, killing 3,900, according to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

    The vaccine appears to be virtually 100 percent effective against two of the most common cancer-causing strains of HPV. One hundred percent effectiveness is an unheard-of medical success. It is cause for celebration, not argumentation. But then again, we have the misfortune of having been born into the scientific Ice Age, otherwise known as God Squad America.

    The vaccine could be available by next year. And what riles the God Squaders is that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could add the vaccine to a roster of recommended or required shots for preteen girls. The argument goes, if teen girls don’t have the fear of cervical cancer emblazoned on their foreheads, they will ignore all that great abstinence-only education instilled in them. Or at least, that’s what the Family Research Council and the Concerned Women for America (CWA) fear.

    USA Today reports, “But even some of these groups appear to be warming to the idea of a cancer vaccine. Wendy Wright (of CWA) says that, when she first heard about the possibility of immunizing preteens against HPV, she thought ‘it would seem to send a message that we’re expecting the girls to be sexually active.’ ”

    “Now that she has learned that the vaccine’s main purpose is to protect against cervical cancer, she feels more comfortable about it, says Wright, executive vice president of Concerned Women of America, which, according to its Web site, aims to ‘bring Bible principles into all levels of public policy.’ ”

    However, I found not a modicum of moderation on the Family Research Council’s Web site. As of this past weekend it stated, “Some medical ethicists are saying giving this vaccine to every twelve-year old is … (quoting a Dr. Hal Wallace here)….’sending a message to a lot of kids, I think, that you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want and it’s not going to be a problem, and that’s just not true.’ ”

    So cancer and death are trumped by the religious right’s desire to control the sex lives of young Americans. While the CWA is “bringing Bible principles into all levels of public policy,” why doesn’t the group start requiring its younger adherents to wear tunics and harem pants, so they dress the part while talking the talk? If one really wants to emulate Jesus, one must dress like the women of his time, no?

    The reason for vaccinating girls (and boys) while they’re young is to give women the greatest amount of protection possible from cervical cancer. One would think the pro-life mantra would extend to all fully formed human beings, even those who commit the sin of extramarital sex. A married woman who never had sex outside of marriage could be infected by her philandering husband. But she should have been spared vaccination and should instead die of cervical cancer, if you take the pro-life position to its logical end.

    Perhaps God Squad America is really more pro-birth than pro-life. Perhaps this illogical position against protecting girls from cervical cancer finally proves it.

    (Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)