I recently read the following in The Guardian:
Schoolgirls are being denied a potentially life-saving cervical cancer jab at their schools on religious grounds.
Some schools in England have opted out of the HPV vaccination programme because their pupils follow strict Christian principles and do not have sex outside marriage. The jab guards against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus – 16 and 18 – which cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. It is offered routinely to girls aged 12 to 13.
The reasons schools gave for not giving the jab included “not in keeping with the school ethos”, “pupils follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practise sex outside marriage” and “the school does not want parents/students to feel pressured by peers or the school setting”.
Every year, 1,000 women in the UK die from cervical cancer.
The fact that girls are being denied this vaccine is important, as it hinders the ability to generate “herd immunity” using the vaccine, something it has recently been shown to do (cite, cite).
These actions are of course par for the course for religious conservatives. Whenever some medical advance has arisen to make women’s lives easier, some religious dipshit has been there opposing it, abusing, hurting, or otherwise oppressing women. In the US, the same objections— by preventing a common STD, HPV vaccine was creating “a licence to engage in premarital sex” (cite)— were raised. Those people are the successors to the people who objected to using antibiotics to treat other STD’s, to anesthetic in parturition, and that Plan B would lead to “sex–based cults” (cite). Since almost the beginning of history and probably before, religious conservatives have been seeking to control women’s sexuality.
Maybe these people truly believe that these girls will never be raped and will never have premarital sex. If that is the case then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them because they are hopelessly naive. Or maybe they really want some sort of metaphorical stick to wave over people’s heads because they see it as more important that people not engage in premarital sex than in not getting cancer. If that is the case then Dan Savage seems more and more correct.