Yo Bachmann: Gardasil Does NOT Cause Mental Retardation

As some of you may have unfortunately witnessed in the most recent GOP debate, Michelle Bachmann has stirred a controversy igniting the creativities of conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers everywhere.

The story basically goes like this:

Governor Rick Perry issued an order in Texas to add HPV vaccines to the mandatory list of vaccinations required for grade school. While the order itself was overturned, Bachmann attempted to sting Perry by claiming that the vaccine is dangerous and could cause mental retardation. She claimed that the reason for Perry’s vaccination order was because Merck (the pharma company that produces Gardasil, the vaccine in question) had contributed to Perry’s campaign.

The facts go like this:

  • HPV, Human Papilloma Virus, or more commonly: genital warts is the most common STD worldwide and is the 2nd largest cause of female cancer (CDC).
  • In 2006, the FDA approved the first ever HPV vaccine which protects against most kinds of cancer-causing strains.
  • Investigations by the AMA, CDC, WHO, and other major health organizations have cleared the vaccine as safe. Of 23 million administered dosages, 772 (that’s .003%) reported serious effects. To be fair, all medications will have serious effects in a statistically insignificant portion of the population.
  • There is no evidence to support Bachmann’s claims. Though she has been asked to produce scientific material on the matter, she remains empty-handed.
  • Boys and girls ages 11-12 should be vaccinated before they are sexually active. The vaccination consists of 3 shots and will go a long way to protect the health of the youth and to combat this viciously contagious STD.
  • In the USA we have had mandatory vaccinations for school kids for decades. Parents have always had the option to refrain from vaccinating their kids. This is not changing.
  • But Bachmann hasn’t gone all wrong; there is reason to believe that Gov. Rick Perry is in the pocket of Merck. Most of our politicians have already been bought by large corporations. While this is alarming, unjust, and anger-inducing, it says nothing about the actual safety of Gardasil.

    In the coming year or two, prepare to hear a lot of bullshit coming out of politicians’ mouths about your sexual health. The bullshit is most often seen fountaining from the mouths of the conservative ones.

    The best weapon we have is knowledge. Research their claims against the claims of scientists and/or related professionals before you believe politicians. Arm yourself with information, and go forth powerfully and in good health.


  • 28 thoughts on “Yo Bachmann: Gardasil Does NOT Cause Mental Retardation

      • Keep doing your research. Over 18,000 cases of serious problems, over 100 deaths. Remember the “doses” administered are three per individual so divide the doses by three and you will get the number of people. Of the 18,000 cases, even the CDC recognizes that less than ten percent of the public even knows about VAERS. That would potentially put the reactions at 180,000 – not statistically insignificant especially if you or a loved one is one of them. Continue with your political rant but don’t put the lives of young girls at risk for your political beliefs. Parents need to make informed decisions about their children (unless you live in California and then at age 12 you can make decisions about your life!) and ALL aspects of vaccinations need to be considered – pro and con.

    1. It frightens me that anyone would listen to Bachmann; I live in Minnesota, thankfully not quite in her district, but there is no end to this woman’s insanity. After all, her and her husband’s “clinic” teaches “pray the gay away” as a serious thing and still receives funding from the state.

    2. For a couple of years now girls here in the UK have been getting the vaccinations, as well as females upto the age of 17. I was born a few years too late to get this vaccine, I would have jumped at the chance to get it.

      The major hoohaa that happened here when it was proposed was the assumption that teenagers would be going at it like rabbits because of the reduced risk of getting HPV.

      So maybe you could so some research into the vaccine in the UK and rates so far on the HPV :)

    3. Both of them scare me, but in this case, Perry was the more correct. I was surprised that he took the high road on this vaccination considering his religious stance displayed so far.

    4. I have had the HPV. Makes your arm ache like a Bitch, but hey, I would say it’s worth it.
      Me – 1 Cervical Cancer – 0. Winning.

    5. Laci, the vaccine “protects” against 4 types of cervical cancer….hardly most of them. You say knowledge is power and to research claims but have you really researched both sides of the vaccine issue? I am fan of yours but this is a little disappointing and one sided regarding vaccines.

      • Ashley, the article doesn’t say it protects against cancer in any way, it states that it protects against the strains of HPV that are believed to cause cancer and of those it protects against most of those strains known to cause cancer. The number of cancer types it prevents is irrelevant and not within the scope of this article.

    6. I’m male in the UK and paid to have tha vaccine myself £350. I have the last shot in Nov. You can’t test for HPV in males so I got it. based on my sparse sex history as a speculative gamble whos odds seem to favour it. My arm didn’t hurt I think that’s more to do with how hard your viens are to find. I think if your male with a sparse sex history or a teen it’s worth getting, because lots of women haven’t got HPV but aren’t vaccinated.

    7. Love you Laci!!! This is a particular concern of mine of how politicians manipulate the population with sexual health scares. They know they can get away with this because most people are very undereducated about sexual health. In my region in Canada, Sex ed is ONLY taught in grade 9, and that’s ONLY IF you take gym which I believe is complete bullshit. Most ppl try to skip gym and the rest aren’t thinking about sex at 13 years of age. I’v been trying to get my school to adopt other workshops or clubs to talk about sex health issues in order to educated those who don’t get it otherwise.

    8. I had no idea this vaccine was available for males. The fact that good ol Perry only “ordered” it for girls is disgusting. Completely unsurprising though.

      • It’s expensive £350 and there’s no way to test for HPV in males and the most serious ilness it cauises by far in the greatest numbers is cervical cancer. So I don’t think there’s a sinister reason why boys were’nt offered it, If it cost £40 like a hepititus vaccine then I think it would be offered to boys too.

      • At first I thought it was kind of sexist of him to only require girls to have it but then I started thinking about it and I realized that HPV barely affects males and like Jake said it is expensive so he probably singled out females because HPV is strongly linked to cervical cancer and it’s cheaper to only vaccinate one of the two sexes.
        But I still agree with you it just doesn’t feel right to know that he required it for only girls when guys can get HPV too and the FDA approved Gardasil for boys.

    9. i do not believe that parents should have the right to remove their child from vaccination, unless its for some allergy or something. religeous beliefs, preference, “right to raise our child how we want to” is utter bullshit. however, that applies to pretty much everything that parents have the right to do. remember your circumcision debate? exactly. just because parents want the best for their kids, it doesnt mean they know whats best.

    10. Anytime I see something like this; I always get the suspicion that the reason the various religions right fight against these things is because it would hurt their argument and they would rather people get aids, cancer etc…..than anything come along that could threaten their world view or hold of the power structure.

    11. Hi Lacy, I’m certainly not anti-vaccine nor a conservative (!), but here’s the controversy from the french wikipedia page :

      “Selon l’étude clinique de phase III approuvée aux États-Unis par la Food and Drug Administration (FDA), le vaccin n’est toutefois efficace contre les souches du virus concernées que si elles ne sont pas déjà installées. Si elles sont déjà installées, le Gardasil augmenterait selon cette étude le risque d’avoir des lésions précancéreuses, d’où de cancer, et a donc dans ce cas l’effet inverse de celui voulu[4].

      Cette étude a retrouvé que le vaccin chez des femmes déjà infectées pouvait augmenter le risque de lésion du col de l’utérus.”

      Basically, it says according to the phase III of the clinical study from the FDA, the vaccine may increase the chances of developping cancer IF THE GIRL WAS ALREADY INFECTED.
      It is my belief that it should remain a personnal choice to do it, and that it should only be offered to girls who are complete virgins, as the HPV is so commonly transmitted, kinda like the warts you get on your feet actually.

      Another point of this article, is that it would give a feeling of safety to the girls who had it, which is wrong because the vaccine doesn’t prevent all causes of cancer, and therefore, preventive exams and use of protections are still recommended. Some argue the money Merck is making would be better spent in prevention of the disease. And finally, the length of the protection the vaccine offers hasn’t been proved over 5 years, which would make it even more expensive if further shots were needed.

      Be safe and knowledgeable ! :D

    12. I want the money. The CDC has reported over 60 cases of death and thousands of cases of severe neurological damage. Bachmann is a moron but the drug companies are the ones deciding here what is or not acceptable from a presidential candidate. Apparently making questions is a no no.
      Probably the drug companies will prefer Obama with a middle ground solution. Only forcing women to be vaccinated or only vaccinating those that are stupid enough to get it even after reading the evidence.

    13. Hello. Um, long time reader, first time commenter…
      Anyhow. I’ve been following the anti-vaxxer crowd for quite a while. I’m really struck by 1) the favoring of inexpert opinion over expert opinion (very anti-science) and 2) the idea that the eeeevil doctors want to harm YOUR child. Really, almost all doctors are themselves mothers and fathers who wouldn’t be vaccinating their own kids if they didn’t think it works.
      Lastly, thanks for your Youtube videos. Very sound advice and commentary. I wish there had been someone like you around when I was young (I’m 60 now). It would have saved me a lot of mistakes and blundering around.
      And, by the way, nice… eyes. And brain.

    14. You said grade school. That is elementary school right? I didn’t even know what shots I was getting at that age so I don’t think there will be any false sense of security, at least not until they find out.

    15. Laci I love you and you’re my hero but I think you could have been a bit more polite about the bullshit and the conservatives. Yes most of them are very silly and spout things that have no backing but I think being a bit more diplomatic will get more people to listen to you instead of needlessly making snide comments. :(

    16. I have a couple friends who I have personally had to struggle with to help them understand the importance of vaccination. I’ve had success but it’s alarming how easily they accept wizardry over science and how easily they can believe that every doctor on earth is trying to harm them or their children. I think I can convert my friends to healthy readers of Skeptical Inquirer, given a little time.

    17. Hi Laci
      I live in Denmark and a couple of years back we had a debate on the HPV vaccine too. Health risks and more were discussed. The government offered the vaccine to all girls between the ages of 14 and 18 for free along with a vaccine against cervical cancer. The new vaccine against cancer took all the attention, but it only generated good attention and no body objected to the HPV vaccine. I was in the right age group and got the vaccines (it was three shots that had to be taken over 6 months) and I’ve been very happy about it. The vaccine inspired my school to set up more sex ed, and got several speakers to visit the school and talk about STDs and sex in general. The vaccine isn’t mandatory (or free like all other vaccines) yet since the experiment is only two years old, but I don’t think it will take long before it is.

    18. One thing about the Gardasil vaccine that worries me is the effect on women’s hormones. I got the vaccine in 2007 at the age of 15, and I’ve had all of 12 periods since then. Yes, you’re reading those numbers right. 12 periods in 5 years, when I was perfectly regular and had really easy periods before the vaccine. Now I’m not saying everyone will have those side effects, but not many people know about them. So just be careful.

    19. Oh man, I vaguely remember this issue… there have been so many with Michelle Bachmann. Most recently she accused the Rep. Keith Ellison a man who openly admitted he was a Muslim, and a man I voted for, of connections to terrorist organizations. Just like with this vaccine claim, there was NO PROOF at all. Ugh. I just want people to know that this bigot does not represent most of us sane, logical, intelligent Minnesotans. It pisses me off so much that her name is associated with my state. Please don’t judge Minnesota based on her!!!

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