Patt Morrison for September 15, 2011

Bioethicists challenge Bachman on HPV vaccination-mental retardation claim

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Michele Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party Express Rally at Waterworks Park.

Michele Bachman sparked a political firestorm when, during this week’s Republican nominee debate, she denounced Texas Governor Rick Perry for mandating vaccines for schoolgirls against the cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV).

She went on, after the debate, to tell Fox News that a woman had told her that she had a daughter who had “suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.” Her comments set off bioethicists across the country—Dr. Steven Miles at the University of Minnesota offered up $1,000 if the mother Bachmann talked about could produce medical proof that her daughter suffered mental retardation from the HPV vaccine; Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania upped the ante by challenging her via Twitter to a $10,000 bet on the same issue. Medical experts are up in arms about what they say is misinformation. Whose responsibility is it to correct that? Patt wades into the medical issue and the politics.

Guest:

Michael Specter, science writer with the New Yorker magazine; author of "Bachmann’s Political Contagion”


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