Inoculations will be required for all girls entering sixth grade.
To hear it told by some conservatives, Texas teens are in the fast lane on the highway to hell. But — hey! — at least they’ll be better protected from cervical cancer.
Today, Lone Star State Gov. Rick Perry signed an executive order to require all girls entering sixth grade to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, according to the Associated Press. Perry, a conservative Republican opposed to abortion and stem cell research, avoided the battle such an aim would incite in the Legislature by issuing the order himself. Despite the fact that we can now successfully vaccinate against HPV — the most common cause of cervical cancer, which kills 4,000 women yearly — many conservatives are up in arms over the implications of inoculating young girls against a sexually transmitted disease. To do so would undercut messages about safe sex, possibly encouraging sexual activity, they argue.
This line of reasoning is so loony, so unabashedly callous, it’s amazing to hear it so widely parroted. It essentially deems naughty girls who do not heed parental warnings about the dangers of unsafe sex as expendable — either to an HPV, a disease we can prevent, or, in the worst cases, cervical cancer. “The HPV vaccine provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer,” Perry said. “If there are diseases in our society that are going to cost us large amounts of money, it just makes good economic sense, not to mention the health and well-being of these individuals, to have those vaccines available.”
That’s the thing — there’s little argument against the fact that this vaccine, made by Merck & Co., should be available. It’s the idea that it is required that gets more than just the abstinence-only folks hot under the collar. I actually am sympathetic to a visceral uneasiness over the idea of an entire gender being required by the state to get vaccinated against something. (But perhaps that’s just a byproduct of being raised in Berkeley, Calif., where tinfoil hats are as common as tie-dyed shirts.)
But, setting aside irrational paranoia, I’m all for mandatory HPV vaccinations. Consider that the FDA has found evidence that the vaccine is much less effective in young women who have already been exposed to HPV strains. (It might also worsen existing cases of cervical cancer.) If the HPV vaccination isn’t mandatory and a girl’s parents decide against having her inoculated, by the time she’s able to make the decision for herself, its effectiveness has been seriously reduced. In effect, she has been denied her right to be inoculated against HPV — which can only otherwise be fully prevented through abstinence.
Though, no matter where you stand on mandatory vaccinations — and how it should be reasonably decided which inoculations are compulsory — Perry’s motivation in pushing the order forward is worth reconsidering. The AP spells it out pretty clearly: “Perry has several ties to Merck and Women in Government [a major promoter of the vaccine]. One of the drug company’s three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff. His current chief of staff’s mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government. Perry also received $6,000 from Merck’s political action committee during his re-election campaign.”
More Related Stories
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- Horrifying new trend: Posting rapes to Facebook
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Childhood ADHD linked to obesity in adulthood
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Chicago man breaks world record with 48-hour Ferris wheel ride
- I will never be able to afford Angelina Jolie's mastectomy
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- GOP actually bullies an anti-bullying bill
- Georgian police slow to react to mob violence at gay rights march
- 1 killed in Oklahoma tornado
- Thousands treated for sexual abuse-related injuries in military
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11