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Texas House votes to rescind HPV order

AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–By a veto-proof margin, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill March 14 that would overturn Gov. Rick Perry’s much-criticized human papillomavirus vaccine order.

The bill passed 118-23 and now goes to the Senate, where at least half the members already support it. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans.

Perry, also a Republican, issued an order Feb. 2 requiring girls ages 11 and 12 to receive the vaccine before entering the sixth grade. According to drug manufacturer Merck & Co., the vaccine, Gardasil, is effective in preventing most of the strains of the human papillomavirus, which causes most cases of cervical cancer.

But because HPV is contracted solely through sexual contact — and because many parents teach abstinence — Perry’s order has been controversial, with some social conservatives saying it would promote promiscuity. Also, legislators were upset that Perry bypassed them.

“Let’s continue to allow only parents and children and doctors to decide if this is right for you,” Republican state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, the bill’s sponsor, said, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Bonnen later added, “This is only protection they need if they choose to have sexual contact. It’s not protection they need just sitting in the classroom.”

He also contended that more studies needed to be done on the drug’s side effects.

Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody countered by saying if the vaccine is voluntary, few parents will ask for it.

“Today the House of Representatives voted to protect only 25 percent of young women in Texas against this deadly cancer,” she said, using an estimate of the number of families who will use it if there are no requirements, the News-Express reported.

Republican state Sen. Glenn Hegar told the newspaper his goal is “to get the bill to the governor’s desk by the middle or end of April.”

Conservative leaders have been outspoken against Perry’s order.

“The injection of virus-like particles into girls as young as 9-years-old for a sexually transmitted disease is a serious decision, best left to parents and their family doctor,” Jonathan Saenz, legislative affairs director of the Texas-based Free Market Foundation, previously said in a statement. “Subverting the legislative process and mandating by unilateral order is not good for Texas and not good for our young girls.”
Compiled by Michael Foust

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