FILED IN: Health - Politics

Michele Bachmann backtracks on HPV vaccine, mental retardation link

Says claim not hers

Michele Bachmann says she wasn't attesting to vaccine dangers

U.S. Representative and presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann is backpedaling on comments she made about the HPV vaccine last week.

In a recent GOP presidential debate, Bachmann criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry over an executive order he issued in 2007 that required young girls to receive the vaccine against the human papilloma virus, which is one of the causes of cervical cancer. Bachmann has been outspoken against the vaccine, which some conservatives believe will lead to sexual promiscuity, since HPV is sexually transmitted. Perry defended his decision saying the law had an “opt out” clause.

During an interview with the Today show the next morning, Bachmann continued her criticism of the vaccine, relating a story from a woman she had met who claimed her daughter “suffered from mental retardation” after receiving the vaccine, adding that the HPV vaccine can have “very dangerous side effects.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement the same day, saying it recommends all girls receive the vaccine around the age of 11 or 12, and that it “is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.”

When asked again about the HPV vaccine at an Iowa campaign stop on Monday, Bachmann seemed to back away from the claim, telling the Associated Press that she was simply “relaying what a woman had said.”

Bachmann added, “I wasn’t attesting to her accuracy. I wasn’t attesting to anything.”

Bachmann has been heavily focusing her campaign on Iowa, after Perry’s entrance into the GOP race caused her to slip in the polls.