Still a Woman's Right to Her Body?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

An aggressive nationwide movement to force schoolgirls into the clinic for vaccination against a virus that causes cervical cancer has come to a halt - at least for now - in Texas.

Republican Governor Rick Perry had signed an execute order requiring that sixth-grade girls be vaccinated against some strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four U.S. women ages 14 to 59 is infected with it.

But the Texas House voted 118-23 last Wednesday to approve a bill that would keep the vaccine off the list of required shots for school participation and instead make them voluntary. The measure now goes to the state Senate where a majority of members are co-sponsoring an identical bill.

If the governor decides to continue angering his conservative base and veto the bill that would oppose his plan and make the vaccines optional, the 118 votes against him would be more than enough to override it.

In New Mexico, Democratic governor and presidential hopeful Bill Richardson is expected to sign a bill this week that would make it mandatory for girls in that state to be vaccinated long before nearing high school, and talk of similar laws is brewing in other states.

In plain language, these laws state: HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, and even though not every child is sexually active we want to vaccinate them anyway because we have no faith in them or their parents.

But aren't we supposed to discourage underage girls from a premature sexual lifestyle? How do we explain to them that they must receive a vaccination against a virus that they can only get from having sex, but at the same time tell them about the importance of abstinence?

Or have we just thrown in the towel and accepted that in today's time most young school girls are sexually active? It's nothing short of shameful that there exists a lobby taking the defeatist road and failing to acknowledge the fact that requiring schoolgirls who do abstain from sex before losing interest in their Barbie doll collections are being insulted and treated as untrustworthy.

We don't distribute clean needles at homeroom because, let's face it - there's a drug problem in our schools and a lack of clean needles exposes our youth to HIV. But we do shoot them up with vaccines because underage sex is sadly a more acceptable practice than drug use. We wouldn't dare consider a "safe needle program" in middle schools, but vaccines that protect the sexually active is deemed okay because it's inevitable.

Ironically, it's the liberals and champions of abortion and "Women’s Rights" that are most supportive of legislation that would require young girls to receive a vaccination with inherent medical risks (albeit smaller than the benefits) unless they or their parents take proactive steps to waive it.

Are we no longer screaming that government has "no right to our bodies" because it's a "woman's choice?" If not, tell that to the thousands of schoolgirls who will be marched into clinics next year with their sleeves rolled up without choice if they want to continue their studies.

Vaccinations should always be optional, especially those that only benefit the sexually active. Forcing everyone to be vaccinated sends the wrong message, just as handing out clean needles would be too.