First, a description. The HPV vaccine protects against four subtypes of HPV. Two subtypes are known for their association with cervical cancer, and two are associated with genital warts (these are subtypes 6 and 11). When present genitally, these lesions are almost always contracted through sexual activity. However, there are other lesions associated with subtypes 6 and 11 that are not contracted sexually. For example, I frequently remove oral papillomas, which are caused by 6 and 11 and are not contracted sexually (they are frequent in children).
Ed makes this argument in the comments:
We are facing one of those issues in Colorado. For instance, we have a "pro-life" legislator sponsoring a mandatory HPV vaccination bill which will inevitably increase early sexual activity (by making kids feel even more invincible), and thereby also unwanted pregnancy and abortion. He scoffs at the connection, but it's obvious to those of us who see the "life-cycle" of the abortion mindset in young people.I do not find this argument compelling. I do not believe that teenage sexual activity will increase due to this vaccine. This argument assumes that there are a number of teen girls are staying sexually pure solely in order to avoid HPV. If they are vaccinated, then they will see no reason to be pure, so they will engage in sexual activity thus increasing their risk of pregnancy and subsequent abortion.
The problem is this: where are these girls? I'm not sure any girl is avoiding sexual activity solely to avoid HPV. In fact, I believe that most girls are unaware of HPV, including its method of transmission (which can be skin to skin) and association with genital warts and cervical cancer. If this is the case, I cannot see why these vaccinations will give them the feeling of vulnerability.
Like most health professionals, I have been vaccinated against Hep B, which is spread like HIV and is frequently contracted sexually. My staff have also been vaccinated, and I don't believe the fact that they have been vaccinated have increased their "invulnerability" to sex. I just don't see it.
If the pro-life community chooses to require opposition to this vaccine as a requirement for endorsement, we need far better arguments than this one. At this point in time, I'm not sure a better one exists.
Update: It looks like Eugene Volokh has also chosen this topic to blog about. His analysis is here.