Tag Archives: NHS

Parliament on the road to eugenics

The U.K. media today is reporting that Ministers of Parliament are trying to push GPs to give the contraceptive jab to girls to stem the tide of teenage pregnancy. The hysterical, scare quotes media is putting emphasis on age (“girls as young as 13!!!”) and rasising the spectre that there’ll be a crazed Nurse Ratchett running around school sticking girls with anti-baby drug-filled needles.

In fact, when you look more closely at the reports, what the Ministers are advocating are school-based contraceptive clinics and developing sexual health services. Callers to BBC Radio London were egged on by the host’s characterization of the jab as “mandatory for all girls age 13 without parental consent leading to unfettered promiscuous sex.” Way to extrapolate (read: tell bold face, yellow journalism lies). There’s, of course, no mention in news reports of better, sustained sex education or even a gender-conscious approach to respectful and consensual sexuality education.

Far more disturbing, however, is the complete absence of concern about the eugenicist air of such a scheme. Take, for example, the report in The Times:

“The policy of offering [the contraceptive jab or implants] to teenagers is likely to prove controversial. In the past, some doctors have been criticised for offering them to poorer women and those from ethnic minorities without explaining possible side-effects, which include headaches and weight gain [emphasis mine].”

Erm…can we just stick with the first part of the last sentence for a mo? While side-effects are of concern, perhaps we might draw on histories of women of color and poor women effectively being sterilized without consent as the real issue here? Given that the jab makes one sterile for up to three years, I think explaining the primary effect of sterilization might take precedence as a human rights issue over weight gain.

I’m far from advocating doing nothing, but this sounds like an unethical attempt to revisit sterilization abuse in hopes of saving money on social services.

The blog Mississippi Appendectomy is doing great archival work on sterilization abuse.

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Filed under African Americans, race, reproductive rights, sexual health, sexuality, Social Justice, Uncategorized, women

HPV Vaccine: big pharma sucks

After a number of years as an ex-pat, I’ve embraced many UK terms and phrases. Faves include: up-the-duff (preggers), gaff (home), rubbish (trash), toilet (restroom), tablets (pills) etc. However, jab (shot) always strikes me as a bit off-putting.

jabhappy

jab-happy

But my wariness of the HPV vaccine (brand name: Gardasil) is more than semantic squeamishness about all things needle-y.  Today the Food & Drug Administration announced it’s allowing for Gardisil to be used to prevent against vaginal and vulva (vulvicular?) cancers. My skepticism hmmms…

Dare I say, for once, I can appreciate the U.S. drug company advertisements that riddle television day and night? True, those Gardasil (and it’s U.K. rival, Cervarix) adverts are making most Americans over-prescribed hypocons (and a great source for sleepytime pills). And, undoubtedly, they contribute to a spike in teen prescription drug abuse (Charlie Bartlett, you scamp!). However, at least the U.S. adverts, by being commercials designed to sell product, are overt in their links to profit as the expense of girls’ and women’s sexual health/freedom.

The U.K. campaign, on the other hand, is being spearheaded by the Department of Health Services (DHS). But trust: the positioning of this vaccine as a public health service is only because U.K. Big Pharma hasn’t weasled it’s way onto ITV or Channel 4.

What both U.S. Big Pharma and U.K. NHS are allowing the media to do is continue to pimp their drug as a vaccine against cancer and not a vaccine against a significant health issue that leads to cancer (reportedly 70% of the time). As a result, issues arise around parental consent (control) and stigmatization of girls’ sexual health with obvious moral judgments. U.K. schools offer the vaccine to 12- and 13-year-olds without parental consent, while there’s pending legislation in many U.S. states to require the vaccine.

Requiring a vaccine only for girls is creepy. But in an interesting turn, gay men have been approaching private doctors for Gardasil in hopes of preventing HPV that leads to anal and penile cancer. This might stymie some folks who are all for putting the onus on girls, while leaving boys to stick their willies hither and yon unprotected.

As Dr Anne Szarewski (Cancer UK) told the Beeb, “It is bad enough suggesting to people that their 12-year-old daughter might need a vaccine against a sexually transmitted infection. I would be interested to see the response of suggesting to parents that they should vaccinate their boys at 12 in case they become gay.”

Or in case they are at risk for anal cancer, as some of us heteros are. I’d be interested in that response, too, Dr Anne.

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Filed under reproductive rights, sexual health, sexuality