South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has vetoed a bill that would have provided the HPV vaccine free to the state’s seventh-graders after opponents said the measure would sexualize girls at a young age.
South Carolina lawmakers had passed the bill by large bipartisan majorities in the state House and Senate. Moreover, Haley had co-sponsored a bill mandating the vaccine when she was a legislator in 2007. Haley later killed her 2007 bill because it didn’t offer parents an opt-out. Getting the vaccine was optional under the bill Haley vetoed on Tuesday.
Haley said she opposed the new bill because it was “a precursor to another taxpayer-funded healthcare mandate.”
The vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV causes venereal warts and can lead to cervical and other types of cancer. Health officials say the vaccine should be given to patients before they become sexually active.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order in 2007 mandating the HPV vaccine for young girls in Texas. The Legislature later passed a measure overturning that order. Critics noted that Perry issued his executive order after a former top aide became a lobbyist for the vaccine maker. Religious-right groups were strongly opposed to the order.
During the Republican presidential nominating contest last fall, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota absurdly claimed that the HPV vaccine might cause mental retardation.