Attempting to Block Perry's HPV Mandate

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The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would bar state health officials from following Governor Rick Perry's order requiring schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted disease.

The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Texas House last month. If the House accepts the changes made by the Senate, the bill could be on the governor's desk later this week.

If the governor vetoes the bill, lawmakers could override it with a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate. Both chambers approved the bill by well over that margin.

In February, Perry issued an executive order directing state health officials to require the HPV vaccine for girls starting sixth grade as of September 2008. The vaccine protects girls and women against strains of the virus that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.

The bill approved by the House would permanently prohibit the state from adding the HPV vaccine to the list of shots required for school attendance. The Senate's version of the ban would expire in 2011.

A Perry spokeswoman says the governor will decide what action to take once the bill gets to his desk.