Texas House attacks HPV order

A new bill could reverse the state's vaccination requirement.

Published March 14, 2007 8:01PM (EDT)

Sex-fearing conservatives will not take a mandated cancer vaccine lying down! No siree, they're striking back against attempts to legislate public sexual health. Yesterday, the Texas House approved a measure to thwart Gov. Rick Perry's order requiring all sixth-grade girls to receive the HPV vaccine. This debate will continue, of course: The bill "still needs final approval in the House and approval in the Senate," according to the Associated Press.

Republican state Rep. Dennis Bonnen said the bill "will not take away the option for a single girl or a single family in this state to choose to vaccinate a child ... It simply says a family must make that choice, not a state government." As we've argued before, though, it's not that simple. Under Perry's mandate, the vaccine would be given to uninsured girls (or those whose insurance doesn't cover it) without charge. Otherwise, only 25 percent of Texan girls would receive the vaccination, Perry's spokesperson estimated. Let's also remember: Perry's executive order does allow parents to refuse the vaccination.

It's unfortunate that Perry appears to have a conflict of interest in issuing the executive order; that revelation only stirred up the already scientifically silted waters of this debate. But not to be forgotten is the underlying conservative objection to the vaccine: It reduces the menace of unprotected -- and, let's be honest, protected -- sex by guarding against a sexually transmitted disease.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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