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.
Politico obtained the emails referring to the HPV vaccine (the Austin American-Statesman also reported on the emails in 2007) and published them online and combed through their contents.
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.”
Perry published an op-ed article in USA Today making the same point.
“Some are focused on the cause of this cancer, but I remain focused on the cure,” it read. “And if I err, I will always err on the side of protecting life.”
The state legislature revoked Perry’s executive order six weeks after it was signed.
Last weekend, Perry was asked about the legislation at an event in New Hampshire.
“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.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 20 states currently have legislation that requires, funds or educates about the HPV vaccine.
Read the emails below, embedded via Scribd. Or, view the documents in your browser at Scribd.