The Texas House recently voted strongly against Governor Rick Perry's attempt to make HPV vaccination mandatory for 11 and 12 year old girls in the state. The vote was 135-2 in the House, and 30-1 in the Senate. Doesn't get much stronger than that.
Here's what had been at issue:
He said he would sign an executive order directing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to adopt rules requiring all 11- and 12-year old girls entering the sixth grade to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, starting in September 2008. The order allowed parents to let their daughters opt out of the program.
Here's the Wikipedia page on Gardasil, which is the HPV vaccine being discussed. Looking through the list of proposals about the vaccine in various states, one thing sticks out to me:
Allows parents to opt their daughters out on religious grounds.
Really? A vaccine that prevents 70% of cervical cancer, and parents are allowed to point to the Bible and let their child be subject to the whims of fate? It seems to me that if there's a moral argument to be made here, it's that it's dead wrong to oppose a public health initiative that has the potential to save thousands of lives just because your religion doesn't agree with it.
I'd heard about this story before, and this is the exact thing that stuck out to me in the first place. Religious parents in Texas were afraid that if their daughters were vaccinated against HPV and were at significantly lower risk for cervical cancer, that they would take it as a license to have premarital sex all over the place.
Newsflash, Texas: people have been having premarital sex for years. This vaccine would only serve to save lives, not to significantly change behavior. Chances are, if they're human beings, most of these girls are going to have premarital sex with or without the vaccine.
Of course, I guess that's not an argument against those who would view cervical cancer as some sort of divine wrath executed against those who disobeyed God's will and had sex out of wedlock.
So it goes.