Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.
Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21.
Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade — meaning, generally, girls ages 11 and 12 — will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.’s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.
And for those of you wondering how Gov. Perry has the authority to issue such an order:
By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents’ rights groups...
The order is effective until Perry or a successor changes it, and the Legislature has no authority to repeal it, said Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody. Moody said the Texas Constitution permits the governor, as head of the executive branch, to order other members of the executive branch to adopt rules like this one.
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the media, with the public, and I'm sure, eventually a courtroom. Bravo to Gov. Perry for taking the lead on this issue.