Term of Award

Fall 2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Delores Liston

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 3

June Alberto

Abstract

This theoretical inquiry has explored the political, social, and ethical controversy surrounding the government's push to mandate the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for adolescent girls. This vaccine has the potential of preventing cancer, specifically cervical cancer. There is a growing debate in this country whether this new HPV vaccine, Gardasil®, should be added to the list of school-mandated vaccines. Karen Houppert (2007) has stated that this particular "vaccine protects girls and women from cervical cancer and genital warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)" (p. 17). So, what is the controversy? It all started with the fact that this vaccine is the first immunization produced to prevent cancer caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD). There are several U.S. politicians that want to make the HPV vaccine a compulsory vaccine. Because an STD causes this disease there is a debate, according to Houppert, "by compassionate conservatives and abstinence-only hardliners who object to mandating the vaccine since the disease was the result of a lifestyle decision" (p.17). On the other hand, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Gardasil® has proven 100% effective in preventing the four strains of HPV that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer"(Manning, 2007, p. 11). So why not mandate it for adolescent girls? This question was explored further in this work using bioethical feminist theory as a theoretical framework. This study was grounded in the works of Rosemarie Tong and Susan Sherwin.

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