People Don't Seem to Be Forgetting About Michele Bachmann’s HPV Anecdote

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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Despite explaining to Sean Hannity that she is neither a doctor nor a scientist, people who are doctors and scientists are holding Michele Bachmann responsible for her extremely questionable anecdote suggesting a link between a young girl's HPV vaccine and her subsequent "mental retardation." While University of Pennsylvania bio-ethicist Arthur Caplan is now publicly offering Bachmann $10,000 to produce evidence to back up her story, physician groups have been issuing a steady stream of statements intended to combat her claims:

"Since the vaccine has been introduced (in 2006), more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record," Dr. O. Marion Burton, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement.


According to Dr. Kenneth Alexander, a University of Chicago Medical Center pediatric infectious disease expert, the outcry is not about politics:

"There are people out there who, because of this kind of misinformation, aren't going to get their daughter immunized ... As a result, there will be more people who die from cervical cancer."


Of course, Bachmann has always been gaffe-prone, but this issue might be toxic to her campaign in a way that Elvis and serial killers and family commitment slip-ups have not been. Her former campaign manager Ed Rollins called the story "a mistake" on MSNBC, though he added, "Mrs. Bachmann’s an emotional person who basically has great feeling for people." Former RNC former communications director Jim Dyke said was harsher, saying, "This is the nail in the coffin in her campaign. Because you can be a cable television darling by saying provocative things, but you can’t be president of the United States.” Meanwhile, senator and Iowa campaign chair Kent Sorenson was a little gentler, admitting that while Bachmann is "maybe a little passionate," people like that she's "not scripted." Maybe it's just us, but they all seem to be sending the same message: It's time for Bachmann to just make like Palin and sign a reality TV contract. The kids at the University of Iowa certainly seem to think so.

Analysis: Bachmann vaccine comments toxic, doctors say
[Reuters]
With Stakes for Bachmann Higher Now, Her Words Get in the Way [NYT]