Question of the Day: Should girls as young as 12 be able to get HPV vaccine without parental consent?

Abbey Seltzer

A new bill passed by Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown permits girls age 12 to 18 to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine without parental consent. The vaccine is administered in three shots over the course of six months and wards against certain strains of HPV and cervical cancer.

California minors currently can seek confidential care, diagnosis, and treatment for STDs, contraception, pregnancy, mental health problems, and drug abuse, but they cannot get vaccinated without parental approval.

In 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry passed an executive order mandating the HPV vaccine for all girls entering sixth grade, with a parent opt-out. The order was overturned by Texas legislature.

Virginia’s House of Delegates attempted to kill another law in January 2011, four years after it had been approved, which mimicked Perry’s in requiring girls to receive the vaccine before entering sixth grade, also with a parent opt-out.

The debate about the vaccine falls mainly along party lines and seems to not have anything to do with the medicine and science behind the vaccine itself.