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I’ve already blogged on the irresponsible decision by the Catholic School Board to not make HPV vaccinations available to its wards. The inexplicable excuse for this that it sends the wrong message to children. 

Can someone explain to me how getting the HPV vaccination promotes promiscuity? Is there any science to back that up? I sure as hell don’t think so. The only message I get from this is Catholic religious authority is indifferent to the fate of the children they purport to give guidance to so long as they behave how religiots think they should. It sickens me to no end.

What about abstinence-only sex education? If kids don’t have sex then there’s no problem, right? There is one attribute which all abstinence-only sex education programs and abstinence pledges share and that is their spectacular failure rate. In fact, they result in disastrous consequences because teens are not given the appropriate information on birth control and safe sex practices. To any parent out there that is offended by having their children taught responsibly I have this to say: Get over yourself – this is not about you. If parents think that their teens are not going to engage in such behavior they will be disabused of that notion in short order. And for none of them will whether or not they have had the vaccine be a factor in the decision making process.

Having established that teen sex is likely going to happen (not a certainty, but why would anyone roll the dice with their children’s lives at stake?), the only responsible action to take to prevent a needless risk is to make the vaccine available. The Catholic bishop that made this a moral issue was right – it is a moral issue. But it was a self-fulfilling issue because the bishop acted unethically. Making the vaccine available and ethical guidance are not dichotomous choices. What is wrong with doing both, or are they just too myopic to see that this is a false dichotomy?

Here’s what one CSB representative had to say:

“When a school board or anyone else allows something to go on in their schools, it’s almost seen as an endorsement,” said St. Thomas Aquinas board chair Sandra Bannard. “They just didn’t want to go down that road, and thought it was more appropriate that this be a parental choice and families decide what’s best to do for their daughters.”

How about endorsing responsible behavior? I’ve already shattered the fantasy that teen sex doesn’t exist. 

The latest statistics released show a large disparity between the numbers vaccinated in the public system and the Catholic system: 70% of teenage girls in the public system have received the vaccine whereas only 20% have received Gardasil who attend Catholic school in Calgary. What do representatives of the Catholic School Board have to say?

“Most parents, if they think it’s something their child needs or wants, they’ll walk over hot coals to make sure their child gets it.” ~ Marge Belcourt

And this indefensibly irresponsible decision is the equivalent of stoking the coals! If receiving the vaccine is a parental choice as the CSB claims, the vaccine should have been made available in the schools. Then parents themselves can then make the decision to not have their daughters vaccinated (but they would still be subject to my calling them irresponsible). That would be offering the parents choice.

But the CSB’s actions belie they’re motives by effectively taking the decision out of parents’ hands and making it a choice of religious authority. Many parents are very busy people and to make time to have their children vaccinated for to prevent an illness that they may or may not get some day far in the future. Religious authorities, who purport to be moral and ethical guides (but are obviously neither), are counting on the difficulty in obtaining the vaccine. They had no intention of offering choice because they offered no choice. If they could control whether parents could obtain the vaccine for their children outside of the school they would. Indeed, they do try. This is about control, not choice.

What perplexes me is this accomodationalism whereby a group is allowed to contravene public health policy simply because it runs counter to their weakly-defended (and indefensible) religious principles. If this were a parent denying insulin to their diabetic child or a life-saving blood transfusion on religious grounds the province would step in and wrest custody of the child away lickety-split. It’s only because the danger to children’s welfare is neither immediate nor certain in this case. Maybe that’s enough to allow a parent to withhold access to the vaccine, but I see no reason why provincial health authorities should not force the CSB to offer it. 

Well, we are talking about an organization which has a history of making unethical decisions, at times resulting in inhuman body counts. Telling people in AIDS-riddled regions of Africa that condoms do not prevent the spread of HIV even though such a claim is clearly in contradiction with all known science on the matter; moving child-molesting priests around instead of doing the right thing by handing the perpetrators over to legal authorities and silencing the victims with threats of excommunication (Crimen solicitationis, anyone?); refuses to sign a UN declaration to decriminalize homosexuality; (whether or not homosexuality is immoral is a different question, but maintaining the status quo on its criminalization? How 12th fucking century!); withdrew funding from Unicef in 1996 because of associated family planning projects, including the distributed post-intercourse spermicide to young women in refugee camps who had been raped. Or how about the stupidity of condemning JK Rawling’s Harry Potter series of novels by the Vatican’s chief exorcist (people actually believe in demonic nonsense? Come on! Let’s get into at least the 13th century here!) as if they were manuals of practicing Satanism! The list is endless!

The Vatican is a beacon unto us all, if only illuminating our path on how not to behave. The Vatican never takes responsibility for how the ‘moral guidance’ given affects (or greatly shortens) the lives of those who place their trust in it.

But then, suffering and body count has never mattered to the Vatican so long as their victims behave the way it wants, does it?



  1. The CDC release updated birth rates including teen pregnancy.
    The teen pregnancy rate is increasing.

    • shamelesslyatheist
    • Posted January 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Interesting. Overlay a map of the red and blue states and you get a pretty good correlation.

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