a bird and a bottle

Tx Gov Rick Perry Does Something Right. For Once.
February 5, 2007, 3:01 pm
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, law, news, politics, reproductive justice

Update: Turns out Perry might have been motivated by something even more powerful than self satisfaction:  Money. Well at least this time the dirty motives lead to something good.

Thanks to Maxwell for the link and Swampcracker for the heads up.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a through and through New Yorker, one of those who sometimes falls victim to the snobbishness of the coasts. And since Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has abandoned Austin for John Edwards’s campaign HQ in North Carolina, I haven’t had much to say about Texas politics, good or bad. Truth is, I’ve never had much good since it’s one of the most conservative states in the nation (it did produce GWB after all). Not only that, Texas is both a leader in executions and one of the worst states in terms of education. There’s a whole lot of Texas but some days it seems like not a whole lot to love.

And then Rick Perry, uber conservative Governor of Texas, up and surprised me with the signing of an executive order mandating that all girls entering sixth grade be vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer, unless their parents object. Not only that, but the order requires that for girls who cannot afford the vaccination (which runs about $360 for three injections), the state must provide it. For free. This is particularly important for Texas, since cervical cancer is another area in which the state is a standout. From the Times:

HPV, affecting 20 million people nationally, including one in four 15-to-24-year-olds, is the nation’s most common sexually transmitted disease. Texas has the second-highest number of women with cervical cancer, with nearly 400 deaths last year, the governor’s statement noted.

The free provision of the vaccine is especially important, since poor women are less likely to have annual papsmears, which can detect HPV before it becomes cervical cancer. They are therefore much more likely to die of the disease.

While all of the praise being heaped on Perry around the feminist blogosphere is definitely due, I have to join Amanda in her incredulity. How crazy of a country do we live in that we are relieved that a state will require a potentially lifesaving vaccine that can prevent cancer, that often incurable disease? How ridiculous is that the press is trumpeting this executive order as contrary to Perry’s staunchly anti-abortion rights views? When we get right down to it, doesn’t the anti-choice movement’s opposition to the HPV vaccine expose that it is not so much pro-life as anti-woman?

It seems that in doing something almost unquestionably good, Gov. Perry has exposed our soft underbelly. We as women’s rights advocates have fallen victim to the no longer soft bigotry of low expectations.


8 Comments so far
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I can’t say for sure, but it seems to me that I saw somewhere that he is affiliated with (or friends with, or some other relationship) the drug company that provides the vaccine.

BTW, why are *women* having to be immunized when it’s a sexually transmitted disease? Can’t they immunize the men?

Comment by Denise

I haven’t heard anything about his affiliation with a drug company, but I will definitely do some poking around to see what I can turn up. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me.

I agree with you that the fact that women are the only ones getting vaccinated seems…odd. And I don’t know enough about the science of the vaccine to know if it would be effective on boys/men too. Do you know anything about that? I read somewhere the other day (perhaps on Pandagon? I can’t remember) that HPV has also been known to cause penis cancer in men. Now THAT should be a motivator for them to get vaccinated too instead of, once again, putting all the onus on women.

Comment by bean

i think Perry’s former chief of staff is now a big time lobbyist for Merck. check it:

Comment by maxwell

[…] more on HPV and the HPV vaccine, check out these posts. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI […]

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Unfortunately, HPV cannot be detected men, they’re only carriers. Also, there is not test (yet) for them. Just one more area where research is needed.

One issue that hasn’t been mentioned yet is that of insurance. Even for women who do have insurance, not all cover the vaccine, claiming that it is experimental. And, for those that do cover it, they will only cover it if you get started (there are three shots) before you turn 27.

Comment by Lee

Glad you brought up the insurance issue. That’s why what Perry did in Texas was such a big deal — he said that the state would pay for it for young women who cannot afford the vaccine or whose insurance won’t cover it. Of course, we later found out that he is connected to Merck so it might not be as benevolent a move as we had hoped. Still, it makes the requirement more than symbolic and less onerous to have the state pay for it. $500 for three simple shots is more than most people can afford.

Comment by bean

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Comment by homeowners all insurance

my niece is still suffering from side effects of a Cancer she had after suffering from bladder cancer.Thanks for such a useful post about cancer.

Comment by John

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