Vaccinations for contagious diseases like measles and mumps are required before a child can enter public school. That won’t be the case with the HPV vaccine, however. The Bush Administration, its allies on Capitol Hill, and the religious base of the Republican Party are opposed to mandatory HPV vaccinations. They prefer to rely on education programs that promote abstinence from sexual activity, and see the HPV vaccine as a threat to that policy. For years, conservatives have regarded the human papillomavirus as a kind of index of promiscuity. Many abstinence supporters argue that eliminating the threat of infection would only encourage teenagers to have sex.
…Religious conservatives are unapologetic; not only do they believe that mass use of an HPV vaccine or the availability of emergency contraception will encourage adolescents to engage in unacceptable sexual behavior; some have even stated that they would feel similarly about an H.I.V. vaccine, if one became available. “We would have to look at that closely,” Reginald Finger, an evangelical Christian and a former medical adviser to the conservative political organization Focus on the Family, said. “With any vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition” — a medical term for the absence of fear — “would certainly be a factor, and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care.” Finger sits on the Centers for Disease Control’s Immunization Committee, which makes those recommendations.

The full New Yorker article, about the Bush Administration’s war on human health, on scientific research, on individual scientists, on publicly available information, and more broadly on objective reality, is not available online. However, an interview with the author, Michael Specter, is.