Texans Still Opposed to Perry's HPV Plan

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided to request state funding for the HPV vaccine, many were surprised. It seemed an unlikely move for the conservative governor.

The decision immediately became controversial, and now the Texas House of Representatives has voted 119-21 to pass legislation to overturn Perry's executive order requiring school age girls to get the HPV vaccine.

The uproar over Perry's decision was almost instantaneous.

Since cervical cancer is sexually transmitted, some feel requiring vaccination might lead to young girls becoming sexually active sooner. Others believe the vaccine is too new -- not enough is known about it to make it mandatory.

More than 30 states are now debating the merits of requiring vaccination.

At a coffee shop in Richmond, Texas, one mother of two young teenage girls said deciding to get the HPV vaccine for her daughters was a simple decision. "It will keep them from getting cervical cancer, so how could I not get it for them?" she said. "I would be willing to pay for it out of my pocket if I had to do so."

Heather Burcham, 30, is dying of cervical cancer. "It [cervical cancer] can happen to women as early as 18, 21. Cancer knows no age, knows no race," she said. "It can happen to anyone, and I just beg mothers out there to please research, please find out all you can about the vaccination before you make up your mind."

In the legislative process in Texas, the House will vote one more time. Then the bill will move on to the Texas Senate, which is also expected to vote "no" to Perry's executive order.

Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report, follows Texas politics closely. He says this early vote in the legislature is a direct challenge to Perry. "It gives him plenty of time to veto the legislation," he explained, "and clearly the votes in the House and Senate are there to override his veto, should he choose to veto the legislation."

Until then, the debate rages on.

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