GOP front runner Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) got thoroughly beat-up by his fellow candidates at last night’s CNN/Tea Party debate over his executive order mandating that girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had a particularly ferocious response, saying, “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong.” Bachmann also sent out a letter to supporters reiterating her claim during the debate that as a mother, she’s “offended” by Perry’s decision.
After the debate, she took her attack one step further and said she had met with a mother who told her “that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.” “This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions,” she added.
Today Rick Perry hit back against Bachmann’s false accusations that there is any connection between the HPV vaccine and mental retardation:
Perry dismissed that idea as similar to debunked theories linking vaccinations to autism.
“You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases, and they were.. autism was part of that. Now we’ve subsequently found out that was generated and not true,”
“I would suggest to you that this issue about Gardasil and making it available was about saving people’s lives,” he added.
While Bachmann’s accusations that Perry was motivated by close connections to pharmaceutical companies that stood to profit from his executive order are well-founded, her claims about the medical risks of Gardasil are patently false. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has affirmed that “HPV vaccines were studied in thousands of people in many countries around the world” and the data found that “both HPV vaccines were safe and cause no serious side effects.”
Evan Siegfried, a spokesman for the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, told Politico, “Congresswoman Bachmann’s decision to spread fear of vaccines is dangerous and irresponsible” and that “there is zero credible scientific evidence that vaccines cause mental retardation or autism. She should cease trying to foment fear in order to advance her political agenda.” Even Rush Limbaugh said Bachmann went too far.
The fact that Rick Perry had to correct Bachmann on a question of science is a disturbing example of the blind leading the blind. Perry has backed off his executive order since jumping into the GOP race, and his campaign said yesterday, “in hindsight, his order was a mistake because citizens should have had the opportunity to express their opinions beforehand on such a sensitive issue.”
This afternoon on his radio show, Sean Hannity asked Bachmann if mental retardation is a known side effect of Guardisil. “I have no idea,” she replied, saying she’s not a doctor or scientist. Later, Hannity said, “there is no evidence” supporting Bachmann’s claim. She did not dispute that.