AUSTIN — The Senate Monday passed a bill overturning Gov. Rick Perry's order that middle-school girls be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus linked to cervical cancer, with a requirement that the issue be reviewed in four years.
After a brief debate, the Senate voted 30-1, with Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, casting the lone "no" vote.
The bill would prevent the HPV vaccine from being required for school enrollment until 2011. The version passed by the House has no expiration date.
Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who is sponsoring House Bill 1098 in the Senate, said the bill would provide a "resting period" for lawmakers to decide whether vaccinating girls against the human papillomavirus should be state policy.
Perry angered lawmakers and many of his social conservative supporters with his February order making Texas the first state to mandate Merck's Gardasil vaccine. Under his order, parents would be allowed to opt out their daughters.
Some feared the vaccine could send a message to girls that premarital sex is safe. Others argued that the vaccine is too new and that only parents should decide whether their daughters should be inoculated.
"The governor is disappointed by today's actions; and is sad for the lives that will not be saved," said spokeswoman Krista Moody.
Texas has one of the highest incidences of cervical cancer in the nation, with nearly 400 Texas women expected to die of the disease this year.
Van de Putte tried unsuccessfully to have the ban against the HPV mandate expire in 2009, the next regular session. "I would ask that you consider the young women in this state, especially those who are exposed to this virus and will eventually die of this illness."
The House sponsor, Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said it is a good idea to revisit the issue in four years. If the House concurs, the bill would go to Perry, who would have 10 days to sign it, let it become law without his signature or veto it.
source Houston Chronicle