Conservative lawmakers are demanding that Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) rescind an executive order issued last week that mandated human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for all girls entering the 6th grade. Texas became the first state to require the vaccination Gardisil, which has proven to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Since the Governor’s order, legislators advocating abstinence-only education have publicly challenged the benefits of requiring the vaccination, stating that it requires further debate and discussion, Dallas Morning News reports. Critics of the plan claim that the vaccination will condone and encourage sexual promiscuity in teenage girls and interfere with parental rights.
Advocates for comprehensive sex education and women’s reproductive and sexual health support Governor Perry’s plan. Feminist Majority Foundation Medical Director Dr. Beth Jordan said of the recent developments in Texas, “Governor Perry is on the side of science and cancer prevention. The problem with an abstinence-only mentality is that those who abstain are still at risk inside their marriage if their partner has had sex with anyone else and has contracted HPV. Given that 80 percent of US adults have pre-marital sex by age 20, we need to get our head out of the sand and protect women against cancer, whether they practice abstinence or not.”