Friday, February 02, 2007

I'm torn

AUSTIN, Texas - Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

On one hand, if I had an eleven or twelve year old daughter, we'd have already started the series of injections.

On the other, I'm not crazy about the fact that, once again, government is sticking it's nose in where it probably doesn't belong.

By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents’ rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade — meaning, generally, girls ages 11 and 12 — will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.’s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

I suppose it's no different that mandating that all children have vaccinations. Except we're talking about something that's...(gasp)...sexually transmitted. It's not like whooping cough or polio.

But wouldn't it be nice if we could say that we've essentially wiped out cervical cancer like we have those two diseases? I happen to think so. No, it doesn't prevent every strain of HPV. There are about a hundred different strains, most of which are pretty harmless. Of those 100, about 30 are sexually transmitted, but not all 30 cause cervical cancer. Not all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Just most of them.

Now, you can yell and scream all you want about things like preaching abstinence and teaching sex ed in the home. I won't argue with you much. I think those things are very important. But the fact of the matter is, most kids are gonna experiment. Period. Some will survive their experimentation unscathed. Some will wind up teen-aged parents. Some will contract one STD or another...or more. Some will contract HPV and it could (and does) go undiagnosed for years.

And some will die from cervical cancer because of that undiagnosed HPV.

But, of course, some parents would rather say their daughter died from polio than admit she died from cervical cancer...because she had unprotected sex.


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