The HPV Vaccine: Should Your Daughter Receive It?

It's ironic, really: An outcry that for more than forty years has been ringing out among the "pro-choice" contingency is now on the lips of devout Catholics across the country. "Keep your laws off my (daughter's) body!" The issue, of course, is very different — the HPV vaccine, and whether it should be mandatory for school-aged girls.

I agree that this particular decision should be left up to parents, since even proponents of the vaccine admit that there has been insufficient testing. Although preliminary findings regarding the vaccine's effectiveness are encouraging, adverse reactions have been reported, including three deaths. Therefore parents may want to wait for more data before deciding whether to have their teens vaccinated.

Having said that, I believe that the very existence of this vaccine provides an opportunity for us as parents to talk with our children – not only about the vaccine itself, but about why they may benefit from its protection.

Presumably we have already taught our children that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong as well as spiritually, emotionally, and physically harmful. Even so, there are still serious reasons to consider this measure of protection – reasons having little or nothing to do with your child's resolve to remain chaste.

Protect What Is Worth Protecting

"Isn't vaccinating my child against STDs inconsistent with the 'save sex for marriage' message — sort of like preaching chastity while giving her a box of condoms?"

In a word, no. STDs are only the tip of a very large iceberg as far as the damaging consequences of extra-marital sex, and Gardacil is not a fail-proof safety net.  

Initial reports about Gardacil suggest that this vaccine has the potential to eradicate four strains of HPV (Types 16 and 18, linked to 70% of cervical cancer cases; and Types 6 and 11, linked to 90% of genital wart cases). These two diseases lead to infertility or even death for thousands of women each year. According to a May 10 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, recently released data, based on a study of 15,000 women and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show the vaccine was about 98 percent effective in preventing infection. The same article also reports that two USCF doctors have warned that the widespread use of the drug is not advised until more extensive studies are complete.

There is some question as to how long the vaccine is effective, with estimates ranging between 5-10 years — but it should be given before a girl becomes sexually active, keeping in mind that "sexually active" includes not only intercourse but any kind of intimate contact. Parents need to consider all these factors before deciding whether and at what age their daughter should receive the vaccine. Just as important, they must talk with their teenager about why they are being vaccinated. If parents communicate their reasons properly and thoroughly, the vaccine could be a tangible sign of love and support to a young woman as she enters adulthood.

 How Safe Is She?

Parents who decide against giving their daughters the vaccine simply because it might encourage them to become sexually active, need to realize that withholding a shot is not an effective deterrent. Today's teens engage in all sorts of "sex play" short of intercourse to avoid pregnancy, and these "games" also transmit STDs that could destroy a young woman's fertility — or even her life. (This is true whether the girl contracts the disease on a date or as a virgin on her wedding night, if her husband has not been equally chaste.)

Having said all that, relying on the fear of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy to keep children chaste is a risky proposition at best. As any grammar teacher will tell you, double negatives (urging someone NOT to do something to avoid a negative outcome) are never the strongest possible argument. There are far more convincing reasons to remain chaste.

The reasons we want our children to wait until they are married to experience sexual intimacy are far more beautiful, sacred, and complex. The "Theology of the Body" expresses with great candor and eloquence the sacred mysteries imprinted on the human body and one of our most important jobs as parents is to instill that sense of holy awe in our children. As Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, philosopher and author of The Privilege of Being a Woman, reminds us this divine imprint is expressed distinctively in the female, whose feminine organs are hidden and "veiled" with a hymen.

In the May 2007 issue of Canticle (www.canticlemagazine.com), Dr. Alice von Hildebrand elaborates on this profound mystery: "I would try to make [girls] aware at a very young age of this mystery in their body, that there is something very special about the female body precisely because it is veiled. It belongs to God. God has the keys, and nobody — nobody — is permitted into this mysterious garden except with the permission of God, given in the sacrament of matrimony."

Parents who teach their children the full beauty and truth of God's design for their sexuality have nothing to fear from a vaccine. However, there are still two important reasons to have our daughters protected with the HPV vaccine — protected not from their own impulses, but from the bad choices of others.

What If My Daughter Doesn't Date?

First, consider your daughter's future husband. Are you willing to bet your daughter's life — or her fertility — that he has never had any genital contact with another person prior to their wedding night? HPV can remain dormant for years, and those who carry the virus are not always symptomatic.

Depending on the length of their engagement, there may be time for your daughter to be vaccinated prior to the wedding — and if their engagement is for a year or more, and she remains absolutely chaste during that time, this may be the best solution. However, the vaccine is given in three injections over the course of six months, and the manufacturer indicates that Gardacil is unsafe for pregnant women. And so, it would seem prudent to arrange for the injection long before the safety of unborn grandchildren is a consideration.

The second reason to consider the vaccine for your daughter is even more ominous, and far more common than most parents want to consider: the prevalence of sexual assault. According to RAINN a woman in the United States is assaulted every 2.5 minutes. The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that as many as one in five women is raped, most often before she is thirty. As a survivor of sexual assault, I can assure you that it happens even to modest, cautious, "good" girls — and the repercussions can last a lifetime.

Sadly, loving and caring parents who teach their daughters to remain chaste before marriage are often the last to hear about it if their daughter experiences this kind of trauma. Shame and misplaced guilt prevent up to 42% of rape victims from telling anyone what has happened to them. For nearly a decade I told no one what happened to me, afraid that my family would somehow think less of me. My parents loved and protected me as best they could, yet there were some things over which they had no control — and, as it turns out, neither did I. Wise parents need to consider that, having taught their daughters to make good choices, they also need to protect their girls from the bad choices of others. Fortunately, the HPV vaccine allows them to do just this.

What Should I Say to Her?

As Catholics, we believe that a woman's ability to give and nurture life is at the heart of her vocation, and that her reproductive health (to borrow another expression from the feminist camp) should be protected. Talk with your daughter about the vaccine and why she is receiving it. In this way you not only protect her physically, but also keep the lines of communication open so she knows that she can turn to you no matter what the future brings.

You may wish to tell her: "We have taught you what a beautiful thing it is to be a woman, and that God has designed sex as a sacred gift between a husband and wife. We want to do everything we can to be sure that your body stays healthy, for your sake and for the sake of the children you and your husband will have someday. These shots are just one way to protect your body — one of many choices that, with God's help and our guidance, you will need to make to stay healthy. As your parents, we want you to know that you can count on us to protect and help you — no matter what."

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  • Guest

    TexasMom

    Heidi, I agree with your reasoning. In my mid-20s, as a married mother of one child, I was diagnosed with stage 3 dysplasia (precancerous). I was given all types of scenarios, the worst being cancer or the possibility of a hysterectomy and never being able to have any more children. My husband was the only one I had ever been intimate with. Unfortunately before we were married, he'd had other partners. This is how I contracted genital warts. Thank God, all turned out well. I was given a laser treatment in the doctor's office and went on to have four more children–one of them a girl.

    People who have never experienced this kind of scenario find it quite easy to condemn the whole notion of a vaccine. What they fail to realize is that like me, someone can do all the right things and still be faced with a potentially devastating life-changing (or even life-ending) outcome. Even some of the devout Catholic women I call dear friends express a blanket condemnation of the idea. Thank you for providing a balanced portrayal of the possibilities.

  • Guest

    I dislike the vaccine supporters' rhetoric, "Are you willing to bet your daughter's health — or fertililty?"   It's designed to scare people.  Just as much as the three documented deaths could easily be used by vaccine opponents to ask, "Would you bet your daughter's life on taking this vaccine?"

    Heidi's agreeable reasoning aside, aren't these vaccines mandatory in a few states and isn't Merck spending big bucks lobbying to make Gardacil madatory in all states?

    So, if I understand this correctly, you won't be able to legally sit in a classroom in Texas without being a health risk (if you're a girl) unless you have a vaccine against this sexually transmitted disease.   But, unlike small pox or some other infectious diseases, one can't get these STDs by sitting in a classroom next to someone who  has it.

    From my point of view, it seems this particular public health issue is taking us down a different path in its approach to "protecting" our children than past vaccine policy.

    Yes, it's an opportunity for parents to talk about these sexual issues.

    How many parents and teens do we expect will do so?

    How many teenagers do we expect will not understand that the vaccine only protects these certain types of STD and leaves them still vulnerable to all the others?

    I think one number will be very low and the other will be very high.

    But that's okay, because it will give Merck and public health policy makers more opportunity to go further and further down this path. 

    And that's what scares me.

  • Guest

    Oh my goodness!! Please listen to the facts before you even consider polluting your daughters with this vaccine!

    TexasMom, your warts were taken care of. If something like that happened to your daughter, it could be taken care of as well. It's much more dangerous to inject her with this vaccine.

    There are more that 15 types of HPV associated with cervical cancer, but GARDASIL only contains types 16 and 18.

    There have been twice as many children collapsing and four times as manyexperiencing tingling, numbness and loss of sensation after getting a GARDASIL shot as compared to the Tdap vaccine. (as reported to VAERS – the vaccine adverse event reporting system) There have also been reports of facial paralysis and Guillian-Barre Syndrome.

    The National Vaccine Information Center has seen reports of HPV infection, genital warts and cervical lesions AFTER GARDASIL vaccination.

    Considering the 1 – 4% of adverse effects that go unreported, how can we stand back and allow this generation of initially healthy girls to face the possible development of fertility problems, cancer or damage to their genes, all of which Merck admits on their insert that it has not studied at all?

    Better to err on the side of prudence. Protect your daughters. Keep them chaste and teach them to seek out chaste spouses. that's their best protection. May Our Blessed Mother help us all in mothering our children.

  • Guest

    PTR, Heidi is not a "vaccine supporter" as you call and define it.  Nor does she support laws making it mandatory. Her article was very clear on that. It would be helpful if you and other faithful Catholics would make a careful distinction between the health/fertility issues and the political/legal issues, instead of lumping them together.  When we do that, we sound like ignorant reactionaries instead of the people of reasoned, careful dicouse that our faith teaches us to be.

    As for the questions about safety on either side, these were carefully and rationally presented in this article as the weighing of risks that they truly are, not with some attempt to create unreasonable fear.

  • Guest

    I do disagree with the summary paragraphs which seem to instruct parents to get their daughters vaccinated (out of fear of uncontrollable circumstances), for dangers exist in receiving the HPV vaccine (oftentimes even fatal as you smartly pointed out in an earlier link). Sadly, I think Merck would love the overall sentiment off this article.

    For many serious reasons Merck is a company to boycott. One reason: as stated on the Children of God for Life website: "For over 30 years Merck has been using aborted fetal cell lines in the production of vaccines, despite the fact that there are ethical alternatives that could be used. Further, when pressed to cease this immoral, unnecessary practice, Merck assured the American public that 'No further fetal tissue would be needed now or in the future to produce vaccines.' They have broken that promise by contracting with Dutch Biopharmaceutical company, Crucell NV, for use of their new aborted fetal cell line, PER C6 – taken from the retinal tissue of an 18-week gestation baby, which will be used in their new HIV vaccine. Not only do they refuse to listen to the voice of over half a million Americans who have written to protest, they continue to exploit our unborn and profit from the destruction of innocent human life. "

    FYI: for further research on vaccine information:
    National Vaccine Information Center
    and
    Children of God for Life
    especially their page titled: "Gardasil HPV Vaccine – Get the Facts!"

    Above all, we as mothers should continue to pray for God's wisdom and guidance and to pray for our daughters' physical and spiritual safety.

  • Guest

    Mary,

    My apologies if this goes against anyone's politics. Not my intention.

    I am not trying to label Ms. Hess Saxton with any particular politics, and I characterized Ms. Hess Sexton's reasoning as "agreeable." But I am critical of the rhetoric she used.  She opted to use the rhetoric of the vaccine's supporters in asking, "would you be willing to bet your daughter's life — or her fertility…".

    That is her choice to use those words, not mine. And those words are deliberately used by the vaccine's supporters to motivate parents to get the vaccine for their daughters out of a fear that she may lose her life or fertility if she does not get the vaccine. How else can one read these words?

    Your ignorant reactionary,

    PTR.

  • Guest

    What's wrong with you people who are willing to subject your daughters to this vaccine? I fully agree with (fulltimemom on thu,05/31/2007-8:54am.). "Better to err on the side of prudence. Protect your daughters. Keep them chaste and teach them to seek out chaste spouses". THATS TRULY THE BEST AND GODLY THING TO DO!!!

    Sumitted by another fulltimemom!

     

  • Guest

    Ave Maria!

    I am the mother of sons but if I had a daughter, there is NO way I would submit her to this vaccine!  I say this as a pharmacist.

  • Guest

    In the May-June 2007 issue of Celebrate Life magazine, a publication of the American Life League, Jim Sedlak wrote an article "None Dare Call it a Conspiracy" (pg. 18).  An informative read!  Thanks, Mr. Sedlak, for speaking up for life…you are a true defender!

  • Guest

    Gardasil is unfortunately being portrayed as a panacea for the sexual proclivities of our children.  This is a false notion and one that should be carefully researched before parents consider administering it to their children. 

    In the past, contraception was promoted as the answer to the consequences of the unbridled free love movement.  STD's sky rocketed as a result.  Anyone can see now that the answer is not to turn to the finite understanding of man on this issue of such gravity. 

    God designed the marital act in such a precise and perfect way that it is held in a balance of sorts.  If we pervert His intention then catastrophic effects are certain.  The appropriate response is to experience an authentic conversion and transformation of our lives. 

    Here, we are then able to return to the virtue of reverence which is termed the mother of all virtues by Dietrich Von Hildebrand in he and his beloved wife's The Art of Living book.  Reverence for our created bodies and their functions will insure chastity. Chastity in turn promotes obedience to the teachings of our Church who is always wise and discerns what is best for the faithful.

    The author of the article writes: "Parents who teach their children the full beauty and truth of God's design for their sexuality have nothing to fear from a vaccine."  While I have deep sympathy for the author's experience, I know that this conclusion is false and dangerous.  Look to those who are promoting this vaccine:  (1) the pharmaceutical industry which has been sickened with greed of the thought sales in states where the vaccine is mandated (these are the same people who have been exploiting unborn children for decades), (2) the pro abortion forces in our country from individual legislators to the abortion promoting non-profit organizations.  Who would want to be aligned with these people?  How can we trust their conclusions on the safety of this vaccine? 

    Merck as mentioned above has a long standing history of profitting from the mutilation and death of the unborn.   When you consider the source of this vaccine and its proponents it is easy to see why we should all be shielding our precious children from it.  Why would we as Christ's faithful look to the father of lies for the remedy for our sin?

  • Guest

    http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm
    A question of probabilities.

    odds of deign in a mortal vehicle accident:
    1/6,498

    odds of being killed crossing the street:
    1/48,548
    according the national center for health static
    HPV has killed 74000 in 32 years or about 2400 per year.
    The number of women in the united states according the last census was 149 million ( assuming 1/3 are not sexually active ) that leave 98 million.

    2400/98million = 1 / 40833

    so a woman is about 6 times more likely to be killed in a vehicular accident then die from HPV and about equally likely to be killed while crossing the street/walking.

    It doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t have this vaccination is in any extreme risk.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=63651
    “According to CDC data, nearly 20% of the complaints about Gardasil involved soreness at the injection site and 9% involved fever or nausea. There were three cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a paralyzing side effect that has occurred with other vaccines. About 11% of the complaints involved fainting or dizziness. There have been no deaths or serious injuries resulting from fainting reported.”

    This vaccine does not appear to be any more dangerous then any other vaccine. ( they all cause fainting and most or many have a chance of causing fever / allergic reaction and )

    In short I don’t see from a medical perspective why there should be a great advocacy or a great opposition to the medicine.
    Why not make people healthier?
    on the other hand it seems ridiculous to make it mandatory.
    The reason it is important certain vaccines are mandatory is because if large segments of the population remain unvaccinated from say polio or small pox we certainly will have resurgent of these epidemics.

    There is not good legal reason to make the vaccine mandatory because it is just not a major health threat. It seems to me to be a lot of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt ( FUD ) generated by Merick to help them make all kinds of money that is behind the drive to make this a mandatory vaccine. There are probably better candidates for mandatory vaccines then this one anyway. Making flue/pneumonia shots mandatory and free would more directly support the health of the pulpous at large.

    I think that is my major objection to the whole thing.

  • Guest

    Interesting article.  I have been reading about the vaccine and I do have 3 young girls (and 3 boys).

    The National Catholic Register had a good commentary a couple of months ago.  Here is one quote from the article:

    “Nearly all cases [of cervical cancer] can be prevented if a woman is screened regularly,” says the American Cancer Society: “When detected at an early stage, invasive cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 92% for localized cancers.”  

    So why the push for this vaccine, here in the US, when the majority of women here are screened regularly (pap smears yearly)?  Because, like someone else said, Merck stands to make a big profit if this is mandatory.  They have begun a huge marketing program to make us all feel like this is "necessary" to protect our daughters, and it seems like many are falling for it, even good Catholics who are raising morally upstanding young women, whose risk of getting HPV will be very minimal.

    Here is the link to the whole article in the National Catholic Register:  http://ncregister.com/site/article/2073

    God bless.

     

     

  • Guest

    Heidi, Thank you for sharing a thought provoking and well written article.  As the mother of two teen age sons, it reminds me that we must always be discussing these issues with our children and praying for them and their future spouses.  

  • Guest

    Thanks for making this a public discussion.  I am glad to see the side of the argument for Gardacil based on sexual assault.  You are very strong and brave to have written about that.  I am proud of you and hope it helps people see the many sides to this vaccine.  It did help me.  I would have not thought of that in my decision for my daughters.

    When a man and a woman decide to get married … there is so much involved.  Their lives and their souls are invovled.  This is just one more thing a woman and a man must think about.  And then in the end, it is about looking into a pair of eyes and leaping.  God bless all those who take the plunge!  It gets more glorious everyday!

    We live such amazing lives.  It is amazing that Christ died on the cross for us.  It amazes me more and more.  Every time I turn around there is more reason why only God can save us.

    GK – God is good!

  • Guest

    PTR, I was not calling you an ignorant reactionary.  And certainly you know that. But I think you are taking her words out of context and not dealing with the substance of her point.

    Good discusssion.  Thank you all for the thoughtful comments.

     

     

  • Guest

    As the mother of 6 girls, 4 boys, and ? on the way, I'm not sure what to do regarding voluntarily giving the shot to my kids….(why aren't boys vaccinated against HPV since they can spread it?)  I will certainly try to keep the political and corporate spin from all sides out of my decision and base giving the vaccine on medical facts using prudential judgement.

     

    However, NO state should mandate that anybody receive the vaccine against their will.

     I will consider Heidi's and other's comments.

  • Guest

    I apologize for not weighing in sooner … I was on my way back from the RBTE conference in Chicago.

    Thanks to all those who contributed to the discussion. As you might imagine, it wasn't an easy topic to write about (special thanks to Mary, and to several other women, who reviewed draft after draft for me). Any errors are entirely my own.

    It is my prayer that it will inspire at least one parent — perhaps especially those who choose against the vaccine — to "bite the bullet" and have a frank (and yes, uncomfortable) talk with their teens about HPV and the necessity of making smart choices when it comes to dating partners and "practices" — especially when Mom and Dad aren't around to guide them. Small lapses in judgment can have grave repercussions.

    God bless!

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    TexasMom: I especially want to thank you for sharing so openly. May God help you pass that courage on to those beautiful children! Whether they come to us through biology or adoption (as mine did), that instinct to protect runs strong. Don't worry about the "friends." One of the ways God redeems horrible experiences is by allowing us to use our hard-won wisdom to help others — including our own children.

    God bless you!

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Dear Heidi,

    Thank you for your courage in sharing this article! It can be very difficult to speak out on such a controversial subject and I think you present a very balanced, reasoned argument. I agree with those who feel this vaccine should not be mandatory, but I do feel it should be an option that parents prayerfully consider. 

    Best wishes,

    Patrice 

  • Guest

    As a Youth Minister and a father of young girls, I am disappointed by this article and by some of the responses. I am sure that the author and those posting comments love their kids and love the Lord. But it seems to me that fulltimemom is the only one who got it right!

    It may seem "balanced" and "nice" to try to play both sides of this argument and conclude that "dialogue" is really what is important. That is the sense I get from it. However, Christ makes it clear: "He who does not gather with me, scatters." In my heart and my conscience I can see only one way to approach this issue. Teach–and live–chastity. This is what our girls–and boys–need to know. GardaSIL is an untested and dangerous intervention. Girls are dying and getting paralyzed from it. If it happened to only one, that would be cause for alarm. Sadly, it has happened to several. More will follow. The wages of sin is death. That is as clear as is gets. Merck is implicated, our permissive society is implicated, our failure to encourage the moral life in secular society (and public schools) are implicated. In the high school where I teach, girls are walking the halls saying, I got my cancer shot today…" How tragically sad. As MacBeth found out, so may they, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair…" Let us be careful not to get caught up in a world view that "gives us what our itching ears want to here."

    Of course, we have the case of the "good girl who marries the good boy who used to be bad." This is a hard word, I am sorry that is so, but here goes. We are called to be discerning in our choice of a spouse. That means choosing a faithful catholic who lives the life of holiness–albeit imperfectly. So many follow their feelings and overlook emotional, financial, SPIRITUAL, and physical compatibility. Too many ignore the warning of the Apostle to "not be unequally yoked." I see so many parents allowing their kids to date youngsters who have no faith but are "so nice." This is an oversight of one of the primary responsibilities of parents. Of course, we live in a fallen world. Mistakes happen. But we must keep in mind that "the wages of sin is death." and that "the sins of the fathers will be meted out upon the children's children." What a challenge that is for us all. Who can live up to it? No one, without God's grace!

    How can we in our right minds think it logical to say that the vaccine will make infertility (caused by HPV strains) occur less when the vaccine itself may lead to infertility (some studies are showing this)? Is that rational? How can we say that the vaccine will prevent deaths (due to cervical cancer) when it is causing deaths and paralysis? This sounds like the voice of Saruman (that's for you Lord of the Rings fans). Gardasil is not the answer. Not for prepubescent girls, not for sexually active women, not for virgin wives whos husbands had shady pasts. The truth will come out in the end. Technology and eugenics will not save us. Only Christ will save us–and following in his footsteps.

  • Guest

    As the mother of grown daughters (one of whom has HPV) and the grandmother of an adult grandson and an adolescent granddaughter, I read this article and comments with interest.  While it's true that one cannot predict the sexual history of a marriage partner–that being one good reason to get the vaccine–the issue of sexual assault concerns me more.  Perpetrators of sexual assault are nearly always "contagious" with something horrific, and there are no "predictors" or "safeguards" against such violence. 

    On the other hand, considering the lack of long-term studies on the effects of this vaccine, I'd certainly hesitate to have my children/grandchildren vaccinated with it.

  • Guest

    I am glad CE published the article and I am glad it sparked comment.

    It was Alice von Hildebrand who reflected on the time when penicillin came out.  She said the number of people who had extra-marital affairs skyrocketed, demonstrating that many people were being chaste, not out of a desire to be faithful, but because they were afraid of catching a disease.

    The key is to raise children into men and women who are chaste for the right reason. I do not believe this vaccine helps to do that, however.

    I predict that in ten years the USA will be a growing group of at least five sexually transmitted diseases that our children will be required by force of law to get shots to prevent.

    And it starts right here.

    And I enjoyed pretending to be an ignorant reactionary. (smile)

    Justin Martyr, pray for us!

  • Guest

    I personally will not have my girls vaccinated but I understand why some people would.  I will definetly talk to them and my boys.  I need to talk to them all more on the Theology of the Body and love and sex.  I am an NFP teacher as is my wonderful wife.  We were blessed with parents who taught us to wait for marriage.  And insanely and luckily but mostly through the grace of God we both did wait.  I want my kids to be able to tell me about anything that happens to them sexually, in case any of them is assaulted.  Life is crazy as it is but I need for them to be ready and trusting in myself and my wife (all through the grace of God).  (Thanks again Heidi for writing this excellent article to help us see more completely.)

    Talking about love and sex to your kids is important.  As an NFP user and teacher the topic comes up more than you'd expect.  It is so important to talk about love and virtue and sex frankly.  Your children will find out everything from the world.  I feel that nothing should shock them when they hear it in the world.  They should get it all from their parents, enhanced through Christ's gospel.  It is very touchy.  It is challenging but I agree with the article that we need to talk about it all.  I use humor and prayer and straight forwardness.

    Your kids will love you for it and hopefully move closer to God and you because of your talks with them.  I will pray for all parents on this topic and I hope you would pray for me and my wife.

    GK – God is good!

  • Guest

    Hello, Tom.

    Since we belong to the same parish, and I know your family (somewhat), I'm not particularly surprised by your take on this. I thank God that you continue to uphold the standard of chasity for the youth of our parish and for your own family. I, too, believe in saving sex for marriage, and nothing in the article contradicts this. What I don't believe in is abdicating responsibility for educating our children on how to protect themselves from the malevolent and impulsive actions of others. Your children are still young, as are mine. But it is never too soon to be thinking ahead. I wish my parents had.

    I pray that you never have cause to regret taking such this particular stance on this issue, particularly where your own girls are concerned. Of course Christ saves the human soul — and He enables the medical community to maintain the health of our bodies. We need both.

    God bless–

    Heidi 

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

  • Guest

    Hmm.  Christ saves our human souls, yes. And He also saves our human bodies as well, as in the Nicene Creed's "the resurrection of the body," doesn't He?

    But I get the point.  God gave us brains to come up with ways to protect ourselves from disease and second order effects of assault, for example.

    Of course this has little to do with the Creed, but the state imposes its will on its citizenry by the force of law, and even at times with violence. And the state has no conscience, it only has voters. That is why I characterize the government mandate aspect on this STD vaccine issue as ominous. Not to scare anyone, but to point out that it is a new path in such policy.

  • Guest

    http://www.cogforlife.org/gardasil.htm lists several articles that would be important to read before making a decision about Gardasil.

  • Guest

    wow! This topic is more diverse in response from Catholics than I would have imagined it to be. I truly believe that whatever decision we make in regards to our own health and that of our children has to be grounded in the firm belief that they carry ETERNAL consequences. If we are seeking wise counsel and following the teaching of Christ animated by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I would have concluded that we would all as Catholics come to the same conclusion, but you-all prove me wrong. Obviously, most readers of Catholic Exchange take their catholic faith seriously. Personal experiences aside, I think that we should be able to take a glance at this issue and be able to decide immediately that it is a threat to the health of our children not only physically but spiritually as well. God bless all parents who are faced with medical decisions for their children, and may Our Blessed Mother guide them in using prudent and wise judgment to bring the souls of their children untarnished before the throne of God!

  • Guest

    While some of you feel that the moral right vs. wrong in this matter is up for debate how about asking the question.. what about the long term value of this vaccine? Ah…. I recently heard a Catholic peditrician say that she would NOT recommend the vaccine. One of her reasons was resistanance and boosters. If the parent gives it to her little girl at the reccomended age of 11 years, then it is the responsibility of that girl to booster herself when she is 19….that is crazy, we already have seen the effects of Chicken Pox, now these kids are seriously sick, hospilized, and some have died due to failure to booster.Can someone please tell me why we as a culture we spend more money and time trying to protect ourselves from immorality, inconvience, and suffering then we do learning, and living in the heart and mind of Christ ? This is not to say that we are not going to fall, because that is a promise from the garden, but lets focus on "Whatever is true, whatever is good, whatever is beautiful" (says St. Paul)

    I hope all parents spend most of their time teaching their children those three things and less time projecting on them the sin that they "might" committ.

    As a mother of 7, 4 boys and 3 girls, I am going to try the good, the beautiful and holy, I think God will bless that and so we parents cling to Him and ask His protection over our children! May the Lord bless us and Mary keep us!

  • Guest

    Heide,  I am not sure what you refer to regarding advocating the education of children on sexual matters.  My comments were regarding mandating (or even choosing) the Gardasil vaccination.  I think it is dangerous physically (serious side effects) and psychologically (false send of security).  I also think that is being pushed by Merck as a money-making scheme, at the expense of our families. My whole comment dealt with "abdicating responsibility for educating our children on how to protect themselves from the malevolent and impulsive actions of others."  I believe that we do that through teaching them the truth, and teaching them to choose the truth instead of falsehood. 

    It sounds to me like you are saying "let's teach our kids the truth, BUT there others who will not follow that truth, they may negatively affect us.  So, get this vaccination against their bad choices."  The problem I see with that kind of reasoning is the same flaw that I see with the "safe sex" argument.  It goes like this…Kid WILL have sex outside of marriage.  They are not capable of anything else.  So, teach them how to protect themselves (ie. condoms).   My response is that such an argument lack hope.  That hope is the hope that our kids CAN make good decisions, and WILL make them.  My kids don't need "safe sex" to protect them when they fall.  In God's grace, through a sacramental life, they don't have to fall.

    Don't get me wrong, I see your point.  I just can't find myself conceding to it.  There are people out there who will make bad choices and they may hurt my kids.  There are date-rapers, murderers, thieves, and the like. But if we make decisions based upon fear of them, then we miss the mark, I think.  In that case, we are always reacting to evil instead of actively living the life of holiness.  We are preparing for lies instead of living in hope of the truth.  I don't like that world, it scares me.

    I also have another theory that I did not mention earlier.  In my debates with pro-choice people and those who promote "safe-sex" I was always at a loss to combat the argument that condoms et. al. DO lessen the chances of contracting some STD's.  But, when our understanding of STD's–namely HPV–became clearer in the 90's I was able to say, "Oh yea, well, NOTHING is effective against HPV.  It is transfered by body contact.."  They HATED that. They had no rebuttal for it.  It has been a fly in their ointment ever since HPV came into public debate.  So, does it surprise us that the pro-choice/pro sex lobby is spending A LOT of time, energy, and money to take the HPV argument away?  I realize that this is a bit of a conspiracy theory but it keeps tugging at my spirit whenever I consider this whole mess.

    Again, I have no problem with education of children–at an age appropriate level.  The Theology of the Body and the moral teaching of the Catholic Church will be part of the curriculum in our home schooling school district (of course, my wife and I are the teachers, principals, and superintendent :-)).  I like what was said above.."whatever is pure, whatever is true, whatever is holy…"

    St. Charles Lwanga and companions, pray for us!

  • Guest

    Tom: I actually think you and I are more in agreement than not. The biggest difference seems to be that your experience tends to fall squarely in the cause/effect paradigm. I, on the other hand, have encountered more than once truly "innocent suffering": abused children, spousal infidelity (not my own, of course), date rape, etc. 

    Reacting to and safeguarding ourselves against evil, which is part of our fallen world, is part of actively living the life of holiness (eg. being "wise as serpents and harmless as doves").  To set this up as an "either/or" proposition is a false dicotomy. 

    Of course it is scary … it is also real, and no amount of chastity training and hopeful (or wishful) thinking will make it otherwise. The safeguards may take different forms (for example, a self-defense class instead of a vaccine). But the enemy is the same. And it is real.

    We give kids driver's training … yet make them wear their seat belts. In reality, seat belts do little good if my child winds up in the carpool of a parent who from a momentary lapse in judgment (talking on the cell, perhaps) has a wreck. But once the wreck happens, the seatbelts may save a life. (Seatbelts aren't foolproof either. In my case, a seat belt broke my pelvis then snapped, causing me to rupture several organs, but I did emerge from the wreck alive.)

    In your zeal to uphold truth, please remember that those of us who see things from a somewhat different perspective are not necessarily the enemy. Some of us just make different prudential decisions, based on our own experiences, as we raise our children. So long as each of us keeps our eyes on the ultimate goal (to raise our children to love God and hate sin), we need to make allowances for the rest.

    I really appreciate your second response, Tom — particularly the tone. I hear where you are coming from, and understand why you take the position you do. I'm afraid we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one … and make room for each other to run the race together. Your sister in Christ, Heidi.

    Heidi Hess Saxton Editor, "Canticle" Magazine Blogroll

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