This is pretty shocking coming from a Republican governor.
Governor Rick Perry of Texas (R) bypassed the state legislature last week and issued an executive order requiring every schoolgirl in Texas to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus by the fall of this year. The decision to issue this mandate from the governor’s mansion and to end debate in the state legislature has caused a firestorm of controversy – and it should have. With this one decision, Gov. Perry, a leader with a strong pro-family record, has short-circuited the kind of legislative debate that is most likely to produce a law that will counter the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and protect the constitutional rights of parents to make medical decisions affecting their children’s health.
The health objectives involved are certainly vital. The vaccine in question – trade-named Gardasil and produced by Merck & Co. pharmaceuticals – is reportedly safe and effective against strains of HPV that cause 70% of the cases of cervical cancer, a malady that kills some 3,700 women a year in the United States. Like other vaccines, however, Gardasil is not without risk of side-effects. Moreover, it is administered in a series of three doses whose cost is at least $360 per patient and possibly much higher. Because HPV infection is caused by sexual activity, it is not transmitted by casual contact and therefore is not in the same class as other diseases like polio for which mandatory, school-based vaccination is a public health imperative.
Informed and empowered, most parents will decide to have their children vaccinated against HPV, but many will decide to do so only after more health data has emerged, when their daughter is older, or in settings that minimize the risk that the vaccination will be administered in a manner that promotes the myth of “safe sex.” These parents have rights too, and Gov. Perry’s sweeping order, even with its “opt-out” feature, tramples on their wisdom and usurps their responsibility. An information and “opt-in” policy for Gardasil would better serve the rights of all Texas families.
Please call Gov. Perry at (512) 463-1849 and let him know you support restoring the legislative process on Gardasil in order to preserve parental rights. His order has galvanized the HPV vaccine debate across the United States and put new focus on the balance between public health and parental rights, a balance that has suffered so much in our sexualized culture.
Tidbits And Treasures trackbacked with: Parental rights slowly being eroded