With the national debate over the HPV vaccine Gardasil and whether it should be mandatory for girls going into sixth grade, I invited Dr. Rosanna Gray-Swain onto my show this afternoon. She’s an ob-gyn at Barnes Jewish Hospital, who explained why this is a public health matter and how effective the vaccine is in preventing cervical cancer.

Religious conservatives are against the vaccine because they think it would give girls another excuse to be sexually promiscuous. That logic doesn’t hold up, because kids don’t know what they’re being vaccinated for in the first place — all they know is they’re getting a shot, and don’t care whether it’s for polio, measles, mumps, hepatitis, or HPV.

In my house, we believe in science, though there are still valid concerns about the longterm effects of Gardasil and the duration of its efficacy. But it’s typical of the USA that this is getting bogged down in the politics of sex. There would be a lot less controversy about this is HPV affected any other part of the body, or if it wasn’t transmitted through sexual contact. For instance, if this vaccine fought nasal cancer, the morality police would keep their mouths shut and a lot more lives would be saved.

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