Texas House Votes to Overturn Mandatory HPV Vaccine Policy
The Texas House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass a bill that would overturn Governor Rick Perry's (R) executive order mandating that all girls entering sixth grade be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV). The 118-23 vote would halt the mandatory vaccination program, which is the first of its kind in the country. An identical bills is in-committee in the Texas Senate and has been sponsored by more than half the members,Associated Press reports.
In June 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, which prevents cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. According to the FDA, more than half of sexually active women will contract HPV, which is responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts cases, in their lifetime. Texas became the first state to require the HPV vaccine when Gov. Perry issued an executive order in early February. His office released a statement providing Perry's opinion that "we should protect as many young women as possible -- rich and poor, insured and uninsured -- while maintaining parents' rights to opt their daughter out of receiving the vaccine," the New York Times reports.
If the bill passes both houses and comes to Gov. Perry's desk, he would have 10 days to sign it, let it become law without his signature, or veto it. According to the Houston Chronicle, Gov. Perry has not indicated what he would do.
In related news, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) have announced that they will sign state legislation that would require all sixth-grade girls to receive the vaccination.
Media Resources: Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 3/15/07, 3/14/07; The New York Times 3/15/07; AP 3/14/07; WBTV 3/15/07; Houston Chronicle 3/14/07; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/9/06