Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Same Shit, Different Religion...

Remember when we discovered that protecting the rights of Muslims to practice their religion was more important than saving women's lives? By the way it was yesterday.

Well what do you know? Now a Catholic school is refusing to allow it's girls to be innoculated against HPV (which leads* to cervical cancer, which can lead of course to death). Worse they're insisting their decision is "not a moral one" but has to do with concerns about side effects like "headaches" and "nausea" and the school "not being the right place" to administer the vaccine. So just to clarify in case any govenors of St Monica's, Preswich are reading:

1) Headaches and nausea generally considered less serious conditions than cancer.

2) Best place to do vaccinations? Wherever we can be most certain that all children will receive it, i.e. at school where we can record these thing.

And a bonus one: (3) Best place for your religion? Further down the priority list than the lives of young women in your care.

*Note, as my wise commenters have pointed out - I am explaining this wrong: HPV can lead to cervical cancer. Having HPV does not mean you'll get cervical cancer, lots of people have HPV and have no problems as a result of it. However the vast majority of cervical cancers develop in women with HPV, so protecting against HPV protects against cervical cancer. (Thanks to those who pointed this out!)


Unknown said...

I heard this today on Radio Five, and I think for the school to give so the most blatant lie of an excuse for refusing this treat is worse thing about this. Why can't they just honest and admit this is due to their medieval belief system?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with the previous commenter. I'm guessing that they tell the girls in their school that sex is evil all the time, anyway. But also, why are they even allowed to do that? They have a responsibility to look after the health of their pupils.

Chris Coltrane said...

I seem to remember reading about this story a week or two ago. Is the BBC article an old story with a new development, or has this happened before in another school?

Either way, it's sickening news. Your three points of advice are spot on.

Rachel said...

I agree that it's important to be able to receive vaccinations at school, and I think every school has a duty to provide them.

However, as I understand it, the HPV vaccine does not prevent cervical cancer, just reduces the risk of it developing.
To judge from the number of times I've seen it referred to as the "cancer jab", this needs to be made clearer.

This is a new vaccine which the government is now trialing on 14 year old girls. It may have some very positive effects; it may have some very negative side effects.

Surely the issue at stake here is not whether to force girls to have the vaccine or not, but rather to give those girls and their families the *choice*?

Aren't we all in favour of bodily autonomy here?

Cruella said...

No-where in the UK is the jab compulsory. Throughout UK schools it is offered to all girls. They have the right to refuse to have it and their parents have the right to exclude them from the vaccination.

So the school is taking away their choice to have it or not.

And yes it is a vaccination against HPV which can lead to cervial cancer. However it should be noted that the majority of cases of cervical cancer develop from cases of HPV. Now actually lots of people get HPV and it never develops into cervical cancer. But people who get cervical cancer have usually had HPV first. So preventing HPV will certainly save lives.

Unknown said...


To says this is a trail is completely untrue, this is national vaccination programme of a drug that has been successfully proved in trails in North America, Brazil, Germany and Poland in which no serious side effects where reported.

Cruella said...

I think you mean "trial" but yes exactly, it's not at the "does this work" stage, it's at the "how best to ensure everyone who wants it gets it" stage.

Rachel said...

@ c64glen:
Thanks for the clarification, but perhaps you could be a little less antagonistic? My comment was not intentionally untrue.

@ Cruella:
I am in favour of the vaccine, on the grounds that it's a good thing to be immunised against HPV. And I think that the school in question are doing a disservice to their pupils.
However, I do feel that, with all the misinformation peddled by almost all other sources, it's better to be clear about what we mean. If I'd only scanned your article quickly, I might have come to the conclusion that HPV *always* causes cervical cancer.
This is the only thing I'm concerned about in an otherwise excellent analysis of religious aversion to women's rights.

Unknown said...


Thanks, Yes. Please excuse my spelling.


My humble apologies, I didn't intended to sound antagonistic, but after the all the MMR nonsense I think it's important to have the correct facts about these vaccination programmes.

Cruella said...

Oh I understand - yes you're right, I've phrased that wrong. I've added a note to clarify. Thanks.


Moving away from this Catholic school's stance on the pseudo 'cervical vaccine' in fact this vaccine does not protect women and girls against contracting cervical cancer. Gardasil are interested in one thing only and that is maximising their global profits. Immense marketing has been conducted by Gardasil promoting wild claims about HPV and also using that word 'cancer' which is certain to gain attention.

One very pertinent question since it is well known that HPV is primarily passed by male to female not the reverse, via intimate sexual contact, is why are not boys being targetted by Gardasil? After all boys should be vaccinated too before they become, presumably heterosexually active. Side effects from this vaccine have been dismissed as just minor headaches and nausea but the facts are more serious than this. Once again a pharmaceutical company has put profit before women's and girls' health and well-being.

The Catholic church like other patriarchal institutions is virulently opposed to women's sexual autonomy, which is why they are opposing this vaccine. But, as I said above, we must move away from claims feminists who oppose this vaccine are supposedly 'anti-sex' and look at why and how Gardasil are promoting this vaccine.

Reality is deaths from cervical cancer are not huge but this does not mean cervical cancer does not happen. The key word is 'cancer' which is how Gardasil are promoting this vaccine as a 'magic bullet.'

For information direct by women who are suffering the serious side effects and research which will not be reported by mainstream media, go to

Once again women and girls are being used as guinea pigs by pharmaceutical companies and also note men and boys are not being targetted. What use is it for one half of a population to be targetted when the other half will continue to pass on varieties of the HPV vaccine to female sexual partners. That is of course, presuming all the population of females are heterosexual.