AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–The Texas Senate easily passed a bill April 24 reversing Gov. Rick Perry’s controversial order requiring young girls to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.
The Senate passed the bill 30-1, sending it back to the House, which passed a similar version 118-23 in March. Both chambers had veto-proof margins. The bill marks a rare showdown between the Republican-controlled legislature and the Republican governor.
Perry’s Feb. 2 order would require girls 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.
Perry’s order was controversial because HPV is contracted solely through sexual contact and because many parents teach abstinence. Legislators also were upset that Perry bypassed them.
“It is important for us to establish the precedent that these decisions mandating vaccines must come through the legislature,” state Sen. Glenn Hegar, a Republican, was quoted as saying in The Dallas Morning News. “It is also important that we send a message to the people of Texas that this is an issue we are attuned to.”