FOR a time, it seemed Michigan would become the first state to sensibly require vaccinations for sixth-grade girls against the virus that causes cervical cancer. However, a lame-duck session of the Michigan House used parliamentary trickery to reconsider its earlier vote and pander to the extreme right's notions that vaccinating against the virus will encourage children to become sexually active.
Only a few months ago other states were emboldened to follow suit and introduce proposals making the vaccination available. Michigan state Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom, a Temperance Republican, had obtained widespread, bipartisan support for her bill. But apparently the support was mostly symbolic.
The state Senate passed the measure overwhelmingly, and at first the House did, too. However, no sooner had House legislators approved it than there was a motion to reconsider the vote. Upon reconsideration, the votes had evaporated; it died.
Michigan deserves better. The cervical cancer vaccine was approved in June by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The advisory committee that supported immunizations urged vaccinating girls from ages 12 to 26 in a three-step process before they become sexually active, not so that would become sexually active. What critics are forgetting is that parents could choose for their daughters not to have the vaccination, just as they can refuse other vaccines for their children.
However, instead of giving young Michigan women and their parents the peace of mind that comes with being vaccinated against a potentially deadly cancer caused by a virus, the House played politics. Opponents insist the measure would infringe on a family's right to decide which vaccines their children receive, that it would urge approval of preteen girls having underage sex, and that the vaccination has long-term or possibly unknown side effects.
Next month, a different House will be seated and the Democrats will be in the majority. Those who care about saving young girls' lives have a duty to reintroduce and pass this bill.
Almost certainly some of our children's lives depend on it.
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