Up until recently, I’ve never had particularly strong feelings either way about religion. People who put the decisions of daily life into the hands of a “superior intelligence” were just coping out, as far as I was concerned; not having to take responsibility for the failures that come along in life from time to time. As for religious wars, where two or more countries fight over who has the biggest imaginary friend, well that just seems ridiculous in the extreme to me. However, up until now, I’ve considered that “their business” and let them get on with it.
However, religion has started to have an impact on my life in an utterly unacceptable way.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes 70% of cervical cancers in this country and is passed on during sexual intercourse. It is, by definition, a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
From next month (September) 12-13 year old girls, in Scotland, will receive a vaccine against HPV, in a bid to cut the deaths cause by this form of cervical cancer, currently running at around 100 per year. I have two girls who will receive this vaccine (allbeit one who will receive it as part of a “catch up” program for girls over the age of 13).
Along with this vaccine, the girls will receive accompanying literature, explaining that HPV is an STD that causes cervical cancer and that they have now been immunised against it.
And there is the rub. They have been vaccinated against one STD, NOT ALL STDs. It should be obvious to the youngest fool that the accompanying literature should point out, as clearly as possible, that this vaccine only protects them against one STD and that further, barrier contraception, MUST be used to protect against the legion of other STDs that are out there.
No such warning will be included in the accompanying literature.
At this point, every right minded person must be wondering, why on earth such an obvious warning should be missing from this very important document. Well the reason is quite simple. The Catholic Church are against any form of “artificial contraception” and had threatened not to back the program unless any and all reference to barrier contraception was removed from the accompanying literature.
Now, what the Scottish Executive should have done was to tell the Catholic Church that they were introducing the bill, it would become law, and if the church did not implement it in their schools they would be held accountable.
However, they chose not to do this, and instead reach a controversial agreement with the church promising not to give our children the information that they needed in the accompanying literature.
That fact is bad enough, however, according to the Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service
“We wanted to make sure that any support materials were appropriate in the Catholic schools and we didn’t want HPV and cervical cancer to be linked with artificial contraception. The factual information about the vaccine and cervical cancer are still there, but it doesn’t promote particular kinds of sexual behaviour. We had discussions about it, we looked at various forms of words and came to and agreement. It took some months.”
I believe a couple of points that the Director makes in his quote are worthy of emphasis, so let me draw them to your attention. Firstly he says
“We wanted to make sure that any support materials were appropriate…”
That’s right, the information that your daughter will be receiving has to conform the the Catholic Church’s view of the world, regardless of your faith or whether or not you are religious at all.
The other point I wish to draw your attention to is
“…we looked at various forms of words and came to an agreement. It took some months.”
It took some months! Are you serious?! A medical program to be rolled out across the entire country and designed to protect girls from cervical cancer, was held up “for some months” because the Catholic Church are against “artificial contraception”.
This is an utter disgrace!
Somebody please remind me, we are living in the 21st Century are we not?