Texas, we have a problem. Your GOP governor is running for president against Barack Obama. Yet, one of his most infamous acts as executive of the nation's second-largest state smacks of every worst habit of the Obama administration. And his newly crafted rationalizations for the atrocious decision are positively Clintonesque.
In February 2007, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a shocking executive order forcing every sixth-grade girl to submit to a three-jab regimen of the Gardasil vaccine. He also forced state health officials to make the vaccine available "free" to girls ages 9 to 18. The drug, promoted by manufacturer Merck as an effective shield against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital warts, as well as cervical cancer, had only been approved by the Food and Drug Administration eight months prior to Perry's edict.
Gardasil's wear-off time and long-term side effects have yet to be determined. "Serious questions" remain about its "overall effectiveness," according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Even the chair of the federal panel that recommended Gardasil for children opposes mandating it as a condition of school enrollment. Young girls and boys are simply not at an increased risk of contracting HPV in the classroom the way they are at risk of contracting measles or other school-age communicable diseases.
Perry defenders pointed to a bogus "opt-out" provision in his mandate "to protect the right of parents to be the final authority on their children's health care." But requiring parents to seek the government's permission to keep an untested drug out of their kids' veins is a plain usurpation of their authority. Translation: Ask your bureaucratic overlord to determine if a Gardasil waiver is right for you.
Libertarians and social conservatives alike slammed Perry's reckless disregard for parental rights and individual liberty. The Republican-dominated legislature also balked. In May 2007, both chambers passed bills overturning the governor's unilaterally imposed health order.
Fast-forward five years. After announcing his 2012 presidential bid this weekend, Perry now admits he "didn't do my research well enough" on the Gardasil vaccine before stuffing his bad medicine down Texans' throats. On Monday, he added: "That particular issue is one that I readily stand up and say I made a mistake on. I listened to the legislature ... and I agreed with their decision."
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