Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not on my watch

If you have a daughter and she is approaching puberty, you have most likely had the mind-blowing experience of having the doctor have you leave the room so they can talk to your daughter "in private." This is, of course, without even asking the child if they "want" that to happen. For most of us, we robotically left the room when this happened, somewhat dazed, and stood in the hall wondering what just happened and what could possibly be the need to leave. Later, once leaving the doctors office, you find that the doctor has probably asked your daughter if she is sexually active, if she would like to go on the pill and how she just MUST have the Gardasil vaccine to "protect" herself.  There are several issues that arise here for me and none of them are pleasant. Some of them are downright scary!

First off, we are being told to leave the room where our precious daughters are sitting and leave them with another adult whom we trust at some level, but they may or may not hold to our belief system. In my case, the doctor we were seeing most definitely did not, for when my daughter explained that she was NOT going to be active sexually until marriage, she was told she needed to be prepared "just in case." She was told all about sexually transmitted diseases and how she needed to protect herself. When this didn't get anywhere with her, the doctor suggested the possibility of rape, non-consensual sex, etc.  Thankfully, my daughter was prepared for this type of false logic and defended herself. As the parent, I am responsible for having this conversation with her. If I had chosen to let the doctor have this talk for me, that's fine. But shouldn't that be MY decision? Anyway, the doctor in disbelief, went on to tell my daughter about how she needed to protect herself from cancer with the vaccine with Gardasil. And how, even if she were to say inactive sexually till marriage, her future husband may be carrying the virus. When my daughter retorted that her husband would be pure as well, the doctor suggested that he might lie.

When I was finally allowed back in the room, I could tell from my daughter's face that the experience she had just had was less than pleasant. As we drove home that day, she recalled the events that took place, half mortified and half scared. I was livid! Needless to say we haven't been back to that doctor, but the thing is, this situation is happening all across the country. I have heard story after story from friends whose doctor's have done the same thing (with girls and boys alike) and they were completely taken aback by it, just as I was. Our parental rights are being shoved aside as doctors take it upon themselves in the name of Privacy Laws and the like to inform our children about their right to have sex and how to be protected "just in case." You might think to yourself that your doctor holds to your beliefs and that wouldn't happen, but it will. I think doctors are being brainwashed by the AMA into believing that we must be protected from ourselves. And I have read articles that parents WANT doctors to have the birds and bees conversation for them. What is that about?!

 Not too long after that visit I had my yearly physical with my gynecologist. Knowing he is a Christian AND a home school father, I asked him about the vaccine. He understood my concerns and my daughter's decision to stay pure. "But what if she gets raped?" he asked me.  I think my reaction told him what I thought of that. I asked, "What are the odds of that happening to a girl that is living at home, has taken a purity pledge, is going to a conservative Christian college and isn't dating? Furthermore, what are the odds that this rapist will have one of the four HPV strains that the vaccine prevents?" He smiled and said that he could see that I had researched this and that it clearly was a decision to be made as a family or personally and dropped it. But that initial AMA- or Merck-sponsored schpeal from my doctor? It scared me!

These days, its becoming increasingly more common for doctor's office to cite patient-doctor privilege when keeping parents in the dark about their own child's records. Numerous reports of parents being denied access to information, access to medical files regarding their child, and even denied the right to be present in the room when their child is being examined, have surfaced. While the frequency varies from state to state and doctor to doctor, it is occurring. has an interesting set of questions you can try answer in the form of a quiz. The answers will surprise you. Rights you assumed you had as a parent are no longer valid. So what happens if you refuse to leave? A friend have mine has had horrible experiences trying to speak for her child's wishes and refusing to back down. Fears of losing her children are easily validated with the reactions the medical community has when you balk at the system's way of doing things. Of course, homeschooling puts you on a watch list anyway since your kids are not getting access to private medical advice via the public schools. Add a religious choice to the mix and  you are sure to be flagged as trouble. So what's a parent to do? Choose your doctor carefully. Don't assume the same doctor you took your infant too will treat your teenager the same way and ask questions. Find out what they want to talk about, if they will make you leave and how they will handle your desire to avoid the situation all together.

My second big issue with this situation is the Gardasil Vaccine. There is a lot of marketing going on to convince you that you may be a failure as a parent if you don't protect your daughter. If your daughter is a young adult she is being told that her partner may carry it and she could get raped or if she is remaining pure until marriage, her future husband may have had premarital sex and acquired it. The thing about this vaccine is that it is not really what it says it is. If you think about it, you probably think it protects against cancer. Cancer is scary and marketing it as a cancer preventative is how they sell themselves. But listen to the commercials. In actuality, Gardasil is designed to prevent four strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which they say can lead to cancer. The National Cancer Institute has reported that cervical cancer is extremely rare in the United States. It estimates that of females that are born today, .68% of them will develop cervical cancer in their lifetime(that's a decimal in front of the 6). It also reports that HPV-16, one of the strains the vaccine is designed to protect you from) is found in approximately 50% of those cervical cancer cases(remember, less than 1% of women) that are linked to HPV. These are not 50% of all cancer cases, but 50% of cases where there is also evidence of an HPV virus. The virus itself is not the cause of the disease and it goes away in most cases without treatment. While researching this I found this interesting quote, that I have seen used in an edited form. It is on the National Cancer Institutes SEER publication on Cervical Cancer pg 84 and refers to a study in 2003 done by the NCI:

"Currently, epidemiological studies have revealed not only that women without HPV do not develop cervical cancer, but also that neither do most women with HPVA new generation of biomarkers should be investigated."

It would be easy to say that women without HPV do not develop cervical cancer and leave off the fact that neither do most women with HPV.

Other factors must be present for the virus to evolve into cancer. These factors include early onset of sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, and smoking. If you have already had the virus(for instance if you are a sexually active adult being told to have the vaccine), and you have already had or have the viruses it protects against, the vaccine does nothing to help you. In addition to it not exactly preventing cancer unless you use your imagination, there are over 100 types of HPV. So basically, it "could" protect you IF the person that your daughter marries had premarital sex with a girl who carried one of the 4(that's FOUR) different viruses that it protects against and she already is predisposed because she is sexually active, smoking or having sex with multiple partners, or has other factors that will lead to cervical cancer. Sounds promising, doesn't it?  Now I am not adamantly against vaccines, and I am certain in today's society, there are many women with those other markers that would benefit from the added protection(as little as it is), but quite frankly I don't feel that it warrants the scare tactics that are being used on young girls and their mothers that do not fit that profile. In addition to my cynical attitude toward this vaccine's abilities as a cancer prevention miracle, the vaccine has been shown to be downright dangerous. Do you want to risk your daughters health for this somewhat-sketchy protection?

I recently came across a YouTube video promoting a documentary about its dangers. You can view that here. If you google "guardasil vaccine" and add the word "dangers" to your search, you will be given plenty of opportunities to see how scary the vaccine is for some people.  There is an endless supply of horror stories and just reading the literature from the CDC or Merck, the vaccine manufacturer, should make you think twice. Especially since having regular pap smears (if you are sexually active) to detect precancerous cell development is the best way to prevent cervical cancer. Any doctor will tell you that the vaccine does not alleviate the need to have a yearly check-up.  The Gardasil vaccine costs $120 per dose and you must have three doses over a 6 month period to be fully immunized. Over 33 million doses have been distributed in the US. That's a pile of money and you know that is the drive to get people to have the vaccine.  So with that, I will end my little soap-box moment on this particular vaccine and move back to the purpose of this post, which is to make parents aware of the erosion of our rights  to parent our children and to forwarn you of the impending visit where you are asked to step out of the room...

1 comment:

Leigh Anne said...

wow, I did not know doctors are doing that! My sweet girl is only 3, but just the thought of her being in that situation makes me so upset! How proud you must of been of your daughter to handle herself so well in that ridiculously awful situation. Thank you for sharing!