The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘bioethics’

Medical Professors to Bachmann: “Put Up or Shut Up” on Vaccine Claims

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 15, 2011

Well, it seems that GOP/Tea Party presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann’s recent anti-vaccine comments at Monday night’s Republican debate have gotten her into some pretty hot water.  Good!  Someone who is that out to lunch on such a core issue of science, medicine, and public health needs to be seriously criticized and derided in the public square, because they certainly have no place in being anywhere near holding public office, in my opinion.

Message to Michelle Bachmann…

One of the most wonderful bits of blowback against Bachmann was in reference to a truly outlandish claim she made in a Fox News interview:

“There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate,” Bachmann said. “She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences.” [emphasis added]

That stupid claim was just too much for some bioethicists who have expressed their skepticism by quite literally putting their money where their mouths are:

Professors offer more than $10,000 for proof that Bachmann’s story about HPV is true

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s story about a woman who claimed that her daughter suffered “mental retardation” after receiving a vaccine against HPV could fetch the woman’s family thousands of dollars. But the family can only collect if Bachmann or the unnamed woman can prove the story is true.

Two bioethics professors have offered to pay more than $10,000 for medical records that prove the anecdote Bachmann told after Monday night’s Republican presidential debate is true, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

Folks, this is precisely the kind of thing which needs to be done when someone who is as high profile as Bachmann (a potential presidential contender, for frak’s sake!) makes as stupid and dangerous a claim as she made.  The mere fact that she made this dubious claim to begin with is bad enough, because it will undoubtedly scare already nervous parents into not getting their kids vaccinated.  I would love to see more skeptical activism of this kind in the future – perhaps it is the start of a trend? 🙂

While I’m at it, I should also report about how Bachmann herself is publicly responding to the whole fracas.  Well, at least I’d like to report on what she has to say, but apparently her campaign is going mum on the issue.  Perhaps that’s for the best – I think it would be preferable if Michelle Bachmann just kept her mouth shut for good.

Posted in medical woo, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AAP Follow Up Statement on Female Genital “Cutting”

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 17, 2010

I blogged a few days ago, in my post Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Women & Science, about how I thought the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) really frakked up by appearing to give cover to some doctors who want to cater to some parents that want to engage in female circumcision (what I and others refer to as FGM – female genital mutilation).  It is worth noting that this new position on the part of the AAP is particularly striking, seeing as how FGM is against federal law in the United States.

Well, thankfully, the AAP has come out with a statement clarifying its position…

The traditional custom of ritual cutting and alteration of the genitalia of female infants, children, and adolescents, referred to as female genital mutilation or female genital cutting (FGC), persists primarily in Africa and among certain communities in the Middle East and Asia. Immigrants in the United States from areas in which FGC is common may have daughters who have undergone a ritual genital procedure or may request that such a procedure be performed by a physician. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that pediatricians and pediatric surgical specialists should be aware that this practice has life-threatening health risks for children and women. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes all types of female genital cutting that pose risks of physical or psychological harm, counsels its members not to perform such procedures, recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC, and urges its members to provide patients and their parents with compassionate education about the harms of FGC while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons that motivate parents to seek this procedure for their daughters.

It looks as if saner heads have prevailed over at the AAP.  You don’t put an end to a destructive, misogynistic practice based upon superstition like FGM by kow-towing to the people who engage in the superstition, and I’m glad the AAP has realized that.

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Women & Science

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 11, 2010

This post is going to be one of those stereotypical “I’ve got some good news and some bad news” kind of stories.  Since I can do nothing to avoid the cliche, I shall sally forth…

Good News! America’s favorite birth control method turns 50 🙂

A world without “the pill” is unimaginable to many young women who now use it to treat acne, skip periods, improve mood and, of course, prevent pregnancy. They might be surprised to learn that U.S. officials announcing approval of the world’s first oral contraceptive were uncomfortable. …

But on the flip side, there is also Bad NewsGroup Backs Ritual ‘Nick’ as Female Circumcision Option 😦

In a controversial change to a longstanding policy concerning the practice of female circumcision in some African and Asian cultures, the American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.

The academy’s committee on bioethics, in a policy statement last week, said some pediatricians had suggested that current federal law, which “makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl in the United States, has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation.

So let me get this straight… within a few days of celebrating the 50th anniversary of “The Pill”, probably one of the greatest inventions for sex education of women ever & a great triumph for medical science, the AAP is recommending that its pediatricians consider endorsing superstitious, misogynistic nonsense (female “circumcision” – read “genital mutilation”) as a way of somehow appealing to people who want to mutilate their daughters?  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Wow… sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

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