Rick Perry (and the Gardasil Vaccination)

Promise: I’ll Give Other Candidates a Chance

Yes, I’ve already voiced my support for a congressman from Texas, but I’m interested in a conservative victory in 2012. I won’t compromise much for this victory, but I’m certainly willing to change who I support. (I guess you could say I’m less loyal to Ron Paul than I am to many of the principles he vehemently advocates.)

Thus, as Rick Perry declares his candidacy yesterday, I’m now taking a serious look at him. Maybe he’s the best candidate for a conservative victory.

Over the past few weeks I’ve heard some things (mostly great things). And I’ve seen some snippets of speeches and prayers. He’s seems polished, confident, respectful, sincere, and intelligent. But I really don’t know anything about him, so today I spent time looking into Governor Perry.

I checked out the Texas budget; while he was governor both spending and debt increased. That is certainly disappointing, but not necessarily the end, so I continued reading about him.

Then I stumbled across something quite shocking, and that is why I’m writing now.

The Executive Order

In February of 2007, Rick Perry issued an executive order mandating all females receive the vaccination Gardasil before entering the sixth grade. Gardasil prevents several types of a very common STD.

(In addition to the parental rights issue, the vaccine had only been approved less than a year previous by the FDA, and within a couple of years (2009) studies came out raising legitimate questions concerning the safety of the vaccination. Thus this is also an issue of safety and foolishness. I’m not saying it should be illegal, but mandatory!?)

Here’s an article that gives a quick summary of the entire situation as it went down.

I’m am short on time, but I’ll try my best to be brief. In short, this order is a violation of parental rights (parents, not governors, should decide what vaccinations their children receive), it assumes scandalous behavior concerning YOUNG girls in Texas (11-12 years), and it is a very foolish to mandate such a vaccine with so little history to have determined safety.

To make matters worse, although this order was issued in 2007 and was subsequently overwhelmingly overturned by the Texas legislature only months later, Perry has not seemed repent in the least.

That sums it up, I’ll continue with some thoughts on the various issues I’ve mentioned here (plus another one, possible corruption).

NOTE (to maintain intellectual honesty): The word mandate is very faithful to this issue since the text of the executive order clearly says, “The Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner shall adopt rules that mandate the age appropriate vaccination of all female children for HPV prior to admission to the sixth grade (The Executive Order, emphasis added).” However, I must inform you that according to an AP article I read, in Texas parents are able to opt out of mandatory inoculations by filing a written affidavit explaining an objection for religious or philosophical concerns. That said, props to Texas for this opt out loophole…but, in my opinion, that changes little concerning Perry’s actions.

Violation of Parental Rights

Volumes could be written on the subject, but suffice to say that families are crucial building blocks for society. This is certainly Biblical and can also be supported by various social tests (success of children from healthy homes versus broken homes).

Unless there is an issue of serious abuse or neglect, there ought not even be a discussion about the state usurping the rights of parents.

And certainly choosing not to inject your eleven year old daughter with a vaccination approved less than one year ago that will protect her from some STDs which she would most likely only come in contact with if she has sexual partners before marriage…certainly this is not abuse.

Sixth Grade?

At minimum his assumption of sexual promiscuity upon the population at large is fairly disrespectful. If someone wants to encourage their daughter to sleep around, well the vaccine is legal and available, go for it. But why must it be mandatory for those who respect themselves and those around them?

Additionally, vaccinating young girls against some STDs could readily lead to a couple of problems:

  1. It might give them a false sense of security that they are safe from STDs in general.
  2. The very process (three separate shots) and accompanying education could be read by young girls as tacit approval of sexual promiscuity.

Safe?

Personally, I recommend you think twice before injecting anything into yourself or your children.

The idea of vaccinations is awesome, and vaccinations have certainly contributed to our relatively long and healthy lives. However, they can be dangerous.

This particular vaccination, Gardasil, has been judged fairly safe and effective; thus the FDA approved it in June of 2006. Rick Perry issued the executive order in February of 2007.

Personally, I’d want to wait a bit until Gardasil had more of a proven track record to see if it was safe to inject into my daughters. (Well, I wouldn’t get them Gardasil, period. But if I was actually interested in the vaccination, I’d wait to verify its safety.)

Perry didn’t wait at all. He didn’t seem to care even though he was going to require many thousands of young girls to be injected. He was in such a rush he issued an executive order (which then had to be overturned by the legislature).

And only a couple of years later there are studies coming to light that raise questions. This isn’t to say that Gardasil is terrible and evil, but there are legitimate concerns that need to be considered. And the responsibility to make a wise decision rests upon parents, not governors.

Corporate Ties

Things start to look messy.

While governor, Rick Perry had a chief of staff (2002-2004) named Mike Toomey (who was also involved in the Tom Delay scandal). Toomey then became a lobbyist for Merck & Co. (the producer of Gardasil).

Perry’s next chief of staff was Deirdre Delisi (2004-2007). And his mother-in-law, Republican Rep. Dianne White Delisi, was a state director for Women in Government. This group has been very interested in HPV and cervical cancer and received funding from Merck. (The exact funding hasn’t been disclosed by either party.)

The Merck PAC contributed $6,000 to Perry.

A Huffington Post article states that Toomey co-owns a private island in New Hampshire with Perry’s campaign manager, Dave Carney.

Now, certainly there is no proof. However, this executive order issued by Perry flies in the face of parental rights. Its disrespect and assumption (and possible tacit approval) of young girls’ sexual promiscuity flies in the face of most in the Christian Right (Perry’s base). And it is downright foolish to mandate so quickly after approval by the FDA.

Why would he issue an executive order like this? Not only doing something very much not conservative. Not only doing something that wouldn’t sit well with his base. But bypassing the legislature altogether (although they do have some say and later overturned it by an overwhelming majority).

After seeing these connections via friendships and money, a very reasonable explanation is that this wasn’t something he did because he felt it was right…but very possibly for less honorable reasons.

A firm conclusion would be foolish, but it looks bad enough that it demonstrates at least some very foolish practices if not actually intentionally dark. If he is totally innocent and simply felt it would actually be healthy for these girls, then why not make it a major issue and push the legislature to do something about it? Why step in so quickly and issue this executive order?

Another thing, why associate so closely with the man involved in the Delay scandal?

Again, a firm conclusion would be foolish, but this certainly is shady.

No Repentance

The legislature overturned his executive order. From the Real Clear Politics article:

Roughly 60 state lawmakers called on Perry to rescind the order. He refused. Just six weeks after Perry put pen to paper, the Texas House rebuked him on March 14, 2007, passing HB 1098, overturning his executive order by a vote of 119-21. The Senate followed suit the following month by a vote of 30-1.

After this, Governor Perry gave a speech.

This speech is disappointing. Instead of recognizing legitimate concerns with his hasty mandate via executive order, he maintained its necessity and acted as if the legislature was depriving Texans of good health, stripping them of protection. However, the vaccine is still legal and available…just not mandatory. So they haven’t been deprived of anything except an executive order mandating they’re daughters be inoculated.

Tentative Conclusion

Rick Perry, I’m not impressed. In fact, I’m somewhat shocked.

As usual, I maintain the right to switch my conclusion if I become aware of additional evidence or reasoning that changes that which I’ve found.

However, I don’t see that happening. This isn’t based upon a single blog entry somewhere on the web. The sources I’ve used have been the Governor himself, The AP, The Huffington Post, Real Clear Politics, and some other (yes) more obscure ones.

But if you do know additional information, I’d love to hear it!

*btw, Ron Paul is strongly opposed to mandatory vaccinations.

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