The ABJ offers a teaser on possible legislation on the issue, including an interview with Sen. Kevin Coughlin, chair of the Senate Health Committee:
- Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) said several colleagues have indicated they intend to introduce legislation concerning vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) for girls entering the sixth grade.
Legislation is likely to come in three forms initially: a strict mandate requiring all sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated; a mandate that gives parents the option of choosing not to vaccinate; and a proposal to increase education about HPV, cervical cancer and the vaccine without any strict mandate.
Coincidently, today’s NYT runs a cover story about the effort nationwide to mandate HPV vaccination. Serious campaigns are running in about 20 states with health advocates on one side and a strange bedfellowship of anti-vaccination activists, pharma skeptics and Christian conservatives on the other.
Personally, I think any law has to have an opt-out. I’m leery about any attempt to legislate how people raise their children. Such a law can be justified if it prevents a societal harm – like epidemic contagious diseases like whooping cough. When it comes to protecting the health of the individual, I side with individual choice.
But I like the effort as a whole. Legislation like this moves people toward a tipping point. The legislative debate publicizes the availability of the vaccine, its benefits and limitations and the sound health reasoning behind the recommendation that girls receive the immunization by the time they are twelve. And it gives some societal cover to the uncomfortable (even for a liberal) acknowledgement that your individual daughter might have sexual contact as a young teen.
So a limited endorsement of the effort, provided it gives parents the ability make their own choices.