AUSTIN — The Texas House will take its first step Monday to overturn Gov. Rick Perry's mandate that schoolgirls be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus linked to cervical cancer.
The House Public Health Committee posted notice Tuesday that it will hold a public hearing on a bill that would pre-empt Perry's order and prevent the human papillomavirus vaccine from being required for admission to any elementary or secondary school.
"The governor has accomplished his goal of bringing attention to this issue," said Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, author of the bill. "All citizens of Texas will have an opportunity to come to Austin to give an opinion."
The text of the relevant portion of the bill reads:
Immunization against the human papillomavirus may not be required for a persons' admission to any elementary or secondary school. This subsection preempts all contrary orders of the governor.
Rep. Bonnen has already signed 60 co-authors onto his bill. And he will need them: it will take a 2/3 majority in both houses to override a self-evident gubernatorial veto.
The bill will be heard in committee on Monday. If you live in Texas, please call your representative and urge support of H. B. 1098. You can also call Gov. Perry's office (1-800-843-5789) and urge that he rescind the executive order mandating the vaccine before 6th grade girls can be registered for school.Just to reiterate: I am not speaking to the efficacy, the safety, or the advisability of the HPV vaccine. I heard from many of you by email on the relative merits and concerns about the vaccine and you had wonderful points. My purpose in this venue is to strenuously object to the governor's order circumventing the right of parents to make medical decisions for their daughters in the absence of any true public health crisis on the order of polio, measles or tuberculosis.
(And speaking of circumventing, I was not aware until today that this was not a bill that passed the legislature and went to the governor for signature. This was done by executive order, bypassing any consultation with the legislative side. We are now waiting on a clarification from the state attorney general on whether the governor even has the authority to issue such an order.)
Alternate numbers for Gov. Perry:
1. (512) 463-2000--office
2. (512) 463-782--Governor's Comment line
3. (800) 252-9600--citizens hot line
4. (800) 843-5789
5. (512) 463-1849--fax