Texas governor and GOP 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Perry recently walked back his support for the 2007 Texas law mandating that every 11 and 12-year-old girl in Texas should be vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and sunshine laws have made his reasoning — via 700 pages of emails — behind the legislation more clear.
Perry’s input only appears on one email thread, on February 6, 2007. He forwards an email of support to his wife and to his deputy chief of staff, and that’s his only visible participation in the discussion of the controversial piece of legislation. When Perry made the vaccine mandatory, it had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration less than a year prior, and Texas was the first state to throw its full support behind the drug.
Critics slammed the policy as government interference in citizen’s lives and said that it encouraged young people to have sex.
In one email discussing such criticisms, Kathy Walt, Perry’s deputy chief of staff, wrote, “THIS IS ABOUT PREVENTING CANCER. THIS IS NOT ABOUT SEX.”
“I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt out, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry,” he said.
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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