Controversy Over HPV Order

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It's the shot heard 'round Texas.
The lone star state has become the first state to mandate an HPV vaccine for young girls.

An executive order from Governor Rick Perry will soon require Texas school girls to be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer.

As expected, there is opposition. However, this time, the opponents include some of Perry's traditional supporters like the Coalition for Life.

"I think it takes the rights out of the parent's hands," said Shawn Carney, Executive Director of the Coalition for Life. "Parents should determine, especially for their 11 year old daughter, what she should and shouldn't have."

Critics of the mandatory vaccine say it sends the wrong message to young girls, and that it could lead them to believe they are protected against all STD's, thereby encouraging sexual activity.

Others say it will force a parent's hand on a subject that might not be age appropriate in their eyes.

"Now you have to explain to an 11 year old what an STD is because they are forced to get something to prevent it," said Carney. "And it kind of unjustifiably attacks their innocence on the topic of STD's."

Governor Perry tried to address these concerns in a statement that reads,"Providing the HPV vaccine doesn't promote sexual promiscuity anymore than providing the Hepatitis B vaccine promotes drug use."

Many members of the medical community also back Perry, saying the studies of the drug prove crucial to the prevention of cervical cancer.

"The initial studies on it showed it to be over 90% effective in preventing cervical, pre-cancerous abnormalities associated with HPV and 99% effective at preventing genital warts," said Dr. Daniel Dawson of the Brazos Valley Women's Center.

Dawson said the results from the studies are astounding considering an alarming number of women the disease affects.

"Studies show that 80% of all women, by the time they're 50 years old, will have HPV at some point in time in their lives," said Dawson.

Schools will begin requiring the shots in September of 2008.
However, Perry has said that he will give parents the final decision about getting their child vaccinated.

Governor Rick Perry's Full Statement :

Gov. Rick Perry Monday issued the following statement regarding his HPV vaccine executive order:
"Never before have we had an opportunity to prevent cancer with a simple vaccine. While I understand the concerns expressed by some, I stand firmly on the side of protecting life. The HPV vaccine does not promote sex, it protects women's health. In the past, young women who have abstained from sex until marriage have contracted HPV from their husbands and faced the difficult task of defeating cervical cancer. This vaccine prevents that from happening.

"Providing the HPV vaccine doesn't promote sexual promiscuity anymore than providing the Hepatitis B vaccine promotes drug use. If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it claiming it would encourage smoking?

"Finally, parents need to know that they have the final decision about whether or not their daughter is vaccinated. I am a strong believer in protecting parental rights, which is why this executive order allows them to opt out."