We have been following what Jon Huntsman called the war on science in the GOP. Now Rep. Michele Bachmann has added to the attacks on global warming, evolution, environmental protections, and other scientific work with a claim that the leading anti-cancer vaccine given to little girls causes retardation. Experts responded with alarm that Bachmann’s comments could discourage families from giving children the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
During the last debate with Texas governor Rick Perry, Bachmann lashed him for his 2007 order to vaccinate young girls when “little girls . . . have a potentially dangerous reaction to this drug.” She explained part of her scientific research for this remarkable claim:
I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects.
While more than 35 million doses have been administered without such reports of dangers, Bachmann has triggered a debate over its safety. It could be a very damaging political attack if young girls are made more vulnerable to cancer.