by Rabbi Michael Mellen
“I am outraged,” cried Jewish Ethics after reports that some religious figures in the United States suggest girls should not receive the HPV vaccine. “Really, c’mon,” the notable Jewish leader exclaimed, “this is all about preserving life, caring for children, and stopping a killer when you have the opportunity.”
“But what about the sexual implications?” cried out one attendee at a recent speaking engagement.
“Sexual implications?” replied Jewish Ethics, perplexed for a moment by the connection. “Oh, you mean that getting the HPV vaccine implies that girls and women may have sexual relations outside of marriage?” Jewish Ethics paused for a moment and continued, “Yes, you are right, of course. They may. And, yes, if you believe that vaccines get in the way of God’s intended work on earth, then by all means, don’t get your daughter this lifesaving vaccine. Go ahead and take the risk that she will not have sexual relations before marriage.”
“But… but…” the attendee responded.
“If you prefer to take one concrete step that may one day save your daughter’s life, increase dramatically the odds that she won’t get cervical cancer (and possibly a number of other cancers), and which has been repeatedly proven safe, then get her into the doctor’s office and get her the HPV vaccine,” Jewish Ethics said.
“Are you telling me that you 100% guarantee that it’s safe?” called out a man in the back row.
“Really, now, I’m not a doctor or a researcher. I can’t guarantee that, but I can tell you that research, use of the vaccine, and recommendations from major medical organizations all overwhelmingly support the safety of this vaccine.”
On a radio show, an indignant caller asked, “Have you no scruples?”
“Scruples?” asked Jewish Ethics, “When it’s suggested that girls should not receive the HPV vaccine because it might encourage sexual activity, that smacks of political talk getting in the way of caring for our kids or religious fundamentalism forgetting that sometimes preserving life stands more highly than fear of the unknown.”
When it comes to the HPV vaccine, Jewish Ethics has been heard speaking out in many venues, “I’m not encouraging kids to have sex. I’m not taking sides in the fight about whether the vaccine should be mandated by governments or schools. I’m just saying that the HPV vaccine for girls is consistent with Jewish ethics and can literally save lives. Consider the opportunity with this. You might think that your daughter won’t need the vaccine because she will abstain. But why gamble with her life and health? Get the vaccine. Take your daughters to get the vaccine – and, perhaps, your sons, too.”
Please, don’t take my word for it. I’m not a medical professional. You can find more information at the Centers for Disease Control website.
Rabbi Michael Mellen is a sought-after speaker, trainer, facilitator and consultant. Ordained as a rabbi in 1998, he has served as Director of NFTY, as a congregational rabbi and educator at Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, VA, and as a consultant, educator, and advisor with Jewish Youth Works, which he founded. Rabbi Mellen works with the Jewish Education Project in New York.
Originally posted at Michael Mellen’s Blog