Bachmann Asks: Can Gardisil Make Your Kids Retarded?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 13 2011 10:46 AM

Bachmann Asks: Can Gardisil Make Your Kids Retarded?

Jonathan Martin caught this moment last night, and some hardy soul has put up the video on YouTube.

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The line:

The problem is, it comes with some very significant consequences. There's a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences. It's not good enough to take, quote, "a mulligan" where you want a do-over, not when you have little children's lives at risk.

That's quite the accusation, one that Ben Smith has already gotten a rebuttal to from the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership. The CDC has recommended Gardisil, warning that the only verified side-effect has been rare cases of blood clots and an immune system disorder. I'm not doubting that a woman came up to Bachmann and said this. News flash: Vaccine luddism is rather widespread (especially so in some affluent areas where moms listen to Oprah, according to research I've seen from Seth Mnookin), and just because a mother might say something like this does not mean it reflects what actually happened. The fact that it's Bachmann embracing this -- Bachmann, who has a habit of endorsing or "just asking questions" about dark theories that she's overheard -- is totally unsurprising.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.