"Health Expert Offers Bachmann $10,000 If She Can Provide One Case Proving HPV Vaccine Causes Retardation"
On her quest for relevance, GOP former presidential front runner Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) is sprinting forward with her attack on fellow candidate Gov. Rick Perry (TX) for mandating girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. Finding success in the ferocity of her first attack, Bachmann took it one step further by championing the idea that the vaccine can cause “mental retardation.”
With that, Bachmann, once again, oversteps the line. The medical community quickly shot down the idea that the HPV vaccine is dangerous. In fact, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan is offering $10,000 to Bachmann’s charity of choice if she can provide one case that proves her claim:
Caplan, who has made the offer via Twitter, to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on the radio stations WTVN and WOR, also proposes that Bachmann should donate $10,000 to the charity of his choice if such a patient can be produced. He says her campaign hasn’t responded. He writes:
If she can produce a case in one week starting today verified by three medical experts that she and I pick of a woman who became ‘retarded’ (her words) due to HPV vaccine I will donate that to a charity of her choice.
It is important to note that the woman who Bachmann reported made this claim has yet to be found or come forward. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement specifically to “correct” Bachmann’s “false statements”:
“The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.”
In fact, Vanderbilt University’s director of prevention research Dr. William Schaffner said that “since the vaccine was approved in 2006, doctors have become even more assured of its safety for preteen and teenage girls.” Pediatrician Dr. Judy Schaecther also pointed out an important point: “For mental retardation to start in any 12-year-old is an odd occurrence…There is nothing in science or experience that would back that up.”
New York University infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel viewed Bachmann’s attack as simply “a political backlash against the whole idea of vaccines.” Indeed, other doctors suggested that parents and politicians are just “uncomfortable with the though of vaccinating children against HPV than other diseases because of the virus’ status as a sexually transmitted disease.”
Crumbling under the weight of scientific evidence, Bachmann offered a curious defense: “I am not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician.”
Even those closest to Bachmann panned her HPV error. Her former campaign manager Ed Rollins called it a misstep. “‘You check that out. You don’t make a broad statement like that when science supports the opposite conclusion,” he said. Her former chief of staff Ron Carey said the error reflects her “impulsive” nature: “Sometimes I’m afraid that she reads maybe 80 or 90 percent and leaves out or forgets the ten or 20 percent that can change the outcome.”