Florida Legislature wrestled with HPV vaccine, too
Amid the discussion over jobs, Social Security and which governor created the most jobs, a sensitive health issue played a role in tonight's debate: Whether to vaccinate young girls against a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.
Gov. Rick Perry has taken criticism for pushing mandatory vaccinations, a decision he reversed. He did not totally back down tonight, but said it was wrong to do an executive order and bypass the Legislature.
A trio of Florida Republicans pushed a proposal in 2007 to make the vaccine mandatory for 11 and 12 year old girls. But the plan, pushed by the powerful drug maker Merck, came under strong opposition from religious conservatives who said it was akin to promoting early sex. "We're concerned about the age of the kids and the message we're sending," Bill Stephens, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, said at the time.
The issue died amid the controversy. "I'm really upset about it," state Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, said then. "By putting it off, we have automatically decreed that some women's lives are expendable."