The House of Representatives in Texas has approved by a 6-1 margin legislation that would rescind Gov. Rick Perry’s executive order requiring all schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a sexual transmitted disease.
The House vote of 118-23 followed by a day a preliminary 119-21 vote expressing the same level of outrage over Perry’s Feb. 2 order that requires all young girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, a virus that can on some occasions result in cervical cancer.
“We applaud House members of both parties who voted to uphold sound standards of medicine, policy, morality and parental authority,” said a statement released by the U.S. Pastor Council, an interdenominational, interracial coalition based in the Houston area. “We encourage the Texas Senate to pass this legislation and codify this policy.”
The group also said its members are encouraged that “Attorney General Greg Abbott has concluded Gov. Perry exceeded his authority with the executive order and it carries no weight of law, however we believe that the legislature should assure that this vaccination will only be voluntary.”
The issue that has rippled across the country as nearly three dozen state legislatures have been presented with plans regarding the vaccine, produced only by Merck & Co., has not been the validity of the vaccine or the goal of reducing cervical cancer, but the issue of requiring schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a disease that is transmitted only by sexual contact.
Merck had been lobbying for plans to make the vaccine, estimated to cost $360-$400 per person, mandatory through donations to Women in Government, an organization set up for female state lawmakers that runs an attached website promoting the vaccine and mandates that would require its use. Many of the legislative proposals have WIG members as sponsors and co-sponsors.
In Texas, there was the additional complication that Perry mandated the vaccinations by executive order, bypassing the legislative process, and critics have noted that Merck employs Perry’s former chief of staff, Mike Toomey.
Krista Moody, a spokeswoman for Perry, said the goal was to “protect as many young woman as possible” from HPV.
So far a legislative requirement for vaccinations for girls has been signed into law in Virginia, and was under consideration in New Mexico, but in several other states including Mississippi and Colorado, it already has died.
Even in California, there’s been considerable opposition to making the vaccine a requirement. Its first sponsor, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, had to remove her name from the plan because of her family’s ownership of Merck company stock.
The vaccine was only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year for use in girls and woman ages 9-26, and the controversy developed quickly when the proposals for mandatory vaccinations were made.
In a commentary, Dave Welch of the U.S. Pastor Council said Perry still has not answered the question as to why he chose to “circumvent the legislative process of review and hearings,” and he noted the relatively small number of cases of cervical cancer, some of which would not be affected by the vaccine.
“The point is that mandating a vaccine for every young girl in the state under the age of 12 is overkill beyond imagination for this problem, in addition to the fact that it only affects four strains of HPV and does nothing to prevent the numerous other STDs caused by promiscuous sexual activity,” he said.
“God gave children to parents as a blessing and while there are far too many irresponsible people who are biologically producing children they do not spiritually, emotionally or physically care for properly; the state is not an appropriate substitute. Let’s spend far more time and resources educating girls and boys why – in every way – waiting to have sex until marriage is always the best decision and that there is no end to the potential harm should they choose otherwise,” Welch said.
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that while the vaccine is valuable, making it mandatory is beyond reasonable.
“I told Merck my personal opinion that it shouldn’t be mandated,” Dr. Jon Abramson, of the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices, told the Washington Times. “And they heard it from other committee members.”
As WND recently reported, Merck said it was halting its efforts to pressure states into making that vaccine mandatory because of the backlash among physicians, consumer advocates, parents and even legislators.
The National Conference of State Legislatures set up a special website just to track and update the various campaigns.
That site confirms that about three dozen states have had such plans introduced. But it shows slow progress in many locations.
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., also has introduced in Congress a plan to discourage states from requiring parents to have their underage daughters – those heading into sixth grade – vaccinated for the STD. His effort would ban the use of federal money for mandatory programs, but allow it for voluntary programs.
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