The Texas legislature has passed a bill banning the mandatory administration of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to sixth grade girls. The House supported the bill yesterday with a 135-2 vote, and the Senate passed the bill on Monday by a wide margin of 30-1. The legislature’s ban counteracts an executive order issued in February by Governor Rick Perry (R), which would have protected women’s health by mandating the vaccine for eleven and twelve-year-olds.
According to the American Medical Association, one-third of American women contract the HPV virus by age 24. Approximately 2.2 percent of those run a high-risk of developing cervical cancer.
State Senator Leticia van de Putte (D) was the only senator to reject the bill. She noted that cervical cancer kills 400 Texas women each year. Van de Putte told the New York Times, “I’m thinking of the women that will die because we didn’t act.”
Gov. Perry could veto the bill, but given its overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, the legislature could easily override a veto. The governor has not yet announced his course of action. In February he said, “Requiring young girls to get vaccinated before they come into contact with HPV is responsible health and fiscal policy that has the potential to significantly reduce cases of cervical cancer and mitigate future medical costs.”