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Sen. Julia Lynn, Rep. Kasha Kelley Criticize HPV Vaccine Bill
Women legislators call bill intrusive and presumptive…
Topeka, KS (February 22, 2007)– In a joint statement released today, Senator Julia Lynn (R-Olathe) and Rep. Kasha Kelley (R-Arkansas City) outlined their strong opposition to HB 2227. The headline-making legislation requires mandatory vaccinations for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for girls entering the sixth grade. In a joint statement, Sen. Lynn and Rep. Kelley stated the following:
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“The availability of the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) indeed appears a positive step for women’s health, but mandating that every sixth grade girl receive this vaccine treads on parental rights, assumes much about each young girl’s view on sexual matters, and frankly is without merit considering the unproven long-term effects of the vaccine. No compelling reason has been given as to why the government should impose a mandate on parents, and make the vaccination a condition of enrollment into school. Specific concerns include:
- HB 2227 is an affront to and invasion of parental rights. A child receiving a sexually-transmitted disease vaccine should involve a parental decision and not a mandated state action.
- HB 2227 carries an assumption that most, if not all, young girls are going to have several sexual partners by default or have sex with someone who has had sexual several partners by default. This is an offensive presumption, and lacks the respect due to parents in raising their children as they see fit.
- HB 2227, due to its assumptions, potentially creates an environment that, in effect, lessens the perceived danger of early sex and could inadvertently “encourage” it. Education about abstinence and the dangers of early sex is a more appropriate route than a mandatory vaccination when entering the sixth grade.
- HB 2227 directs schools to disseminate information to parents about the HPV virus prior to entry into the sixth grade. As notification is often sent home with children, HB 2227 has the strong potential to expose 11-year-old girls to graphic information explaining transmission, symptoms, and untreated consequences of HPV. The graphic natures of these topics are considered by many to be age-inappropriate for a pre-pubescent fifth-grade girl.
- HB 2227 has financial ties to Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the vaccination. The Gardasil vaccination comes in a set of 3 shots with a total cost of about $360. With the only FDA-approved cervical cancer vaccination on the market, if every pre-adolescent girl in the country receives the three-shot regimen, Merck could stand to make billions of dollars. We wonder how cash-strapped families will come up with this extra money, and we question the motive behind this aggressive push for legislation. Apparently, as Merck has very recently suspended lobbying efforts on this legislation due to immense pressure from family and medical groups, others are suspicious as well.
- While we are highly supportive of improving women’s health through medical breakthroughs and innovations, and while we respect and understand the motives of the proponents of this legislation, we must stand in strong opposition to a state law that would mandate an unnecessary vaccination on pre-pubescent, 11-year-old girls. We find it appropriate that the initial response to this bill – and bills like it in other states -- has been negative, and we will continue to watch carefully to ensure legislation of this specific nature does not return in other forms, in the near- or long-term.”
The legislation is currently in the Health and Human Services Committee. A hearing has been conducted with a vote date in the future uncertain.
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