I had an arrangement to meet a girl, and I was kind of late
And I thought by the time I got there she’d be off
She’d be off with the nearest truck driver she could find

Much to my surprise, there she was sittin in the corner
A little bleary, worse for wear and tear
Was the girl with the far away eyes

-Far Away Eyes
(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

They shouldn’t allow me to interact with the public. Tonight, I ran out of tobacco. It was kinda late, I was feeling kinda blue, so I dropped by the local tavern on the way back from the store. A couple of Stella Artois, a couple idle conversations about Monday Night Football, the juke box, and whatever comes up in hard working South Philly.

But sitting there, on the stool next to mine, was a girl with the far away eyes. Off her shift as a bartender/cocktail waitress making an average of six dollars an hour under the table with no benefits, we struck up a conversation. We were already vague acquaintances.

College educated and a skilled photographer, she began to spin out her tale of woe. Who tips? Who is a stiffer? What is it like to mix $7 martinis all night and get no appreciation, no gratuity.

What’s it like when everyone goes digital and no one can afford to print color prints in this city anymore?

How all her quarters go to laundromats and she has nothing but dimes, pennies, and nickles lying around the house.

Then we got more personal. Probably three out of four Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 have been infected with genital HPV in their lifetime.

And you know what? HPV can cause cervical cancer.

Each year, approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States. In most cases cervical cancer can be prevented through early detection and treatment of abnormal cell changes that occur in the cervix years before cervical cancer develops. We now know that these cell changes are caused by human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV.

To prevent the development of cervical cancer women need to take regular pap tests and sometimes an intrusive colposcopy test. My friend had been diagnosed with HPV. Her ex-boyfriend called her up and asked her if he was going to give cervical cancer to every women he ever slept with for the rest of his life. She had no medical insurance and had to wait 8 months at great personal expense to get her colposcopy test. The bartender overheard this and said she too had been diagnosed with HPV and pre-cancerous cells in her cervix and had not been to the doctor for too long because her doctor had switched firms and she wasn’t eager to be examined by a stranger.

So, maybe it might be a good thing if these women could avoid being infected in the first place. Maybe they would benefit from a vaccination that prevents infection. What would the GOP say? What would Jeff Gannon’s GOPUSA say?

Asked this week about the HPV vaccine, Scott Phelps of the Abstinence and Marriage Education Partnership cited a recent letter in which he raised concerns about giving the vaccine to youngsters.

“We’re all for preventing cancer, but is this really the way to do it – by shooting this stuff into our kids?” he asked.

“What are the side effects in these young children? And are they told what the vaccine is for? I’d be interested to listen in on that discussion.”

Phelps said issues like the HPV vaccine were a reminder that “we do what we do [that is, promote abstinence] so that these types of ‘solutions’ will not be necessary.”

What this means in practice is that women must remain abstinent their entire lives or risk getting cervical cancer. The GOP opposes vaccinating people against HPV, they oppose sexual education, they oppose most forms of family planning, they oppose the distribution of contraceptives, they oppose the day-after Plan-B contraception, and they oppose Plan-C (abortion).

Add it all up and nothing could be clearer: the GOP wants women to get married at a young age and have children. To encourage them to do this they want to make sure that any sexual behavior is likely to result in either a sexually transmiited disease or a pregnancy that must be carried to term, or both.

So what is their advice?

Well the preacher kept right on saying that all I had to do was send
Ten dollars to the church of the sacred bleeding heart of Jesus
Located somewhere in Los Angeles, California
And next week they’d say my prayer on the radio
And all my dreams would come true
So I did, the next week, I got a prayer with a girl
Well, you know what kind of eyes she got

She’s got no health insurance, no career prospects, she’s got HPV, and she’s got far away eyes. And now she knows: the GOP must be opposed with all her might.

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