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“Sex shots” for 12 year olds.   That is how the pro-family organization Save California Families is framing the news that California governor Jerry Brown has signed the controversial bill that allows children who are 12 and older to seek medical care to prevent sexually transmitted infections without parental consent, including vaccinations against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

This is not the same as the 2007 action of Texas Governor Rick Perry.   Perry’s order, ultimately overturned by the Texas Legislature, mandated the shot for sixth-grade girls, offering an “opt out” provision for parents who objected.

It is doubtful that there will be a mad-rush by 12-year-olds or young teens in California to take advantage of the new law.  The cost of the vaccination is a minimum of $300 and requires multiple injections over several months.

But is it ever a good idea to allow children as young as 12 to make complex medical decisions without parental consent?   

Some things to consider:

*    A child generally will not know his or her medical history:  Does the child have allergies?  Have there been adverse reactions to drugs or other vaccines in the past?

*    Is the child capable of understanding the risks and benefits related to the vaccination?  Who will be the best advocate for the child – the school representative or a parent?

*    A child can easily be swayed by a person in authority and by misinformation.

In the end it is the parent, who had no say in whether their child was vaccinated, who will be responsible for any negative consequences to the child that come from him/her receiving the vaccination.

“What kind of a statement is this type of law making about the importance of parental rights?”

Quite simply:  “Not a good one.”  See parental rights evaporating before your very eyes.  This new law smacks of government seeing themselves as the supreme parent.  The law is billed as one that liberates the child to care for their health, but in reality is nothing more than a way to eliminate parents from the decision making process on a very sensitive and potential life-threatening issue.  Who now represents the best interest of the child?  The government?  The school nurse?  A teacher?  They have now cast themselves in the parental role.

“What should we think about an HPV vaccination being given to children at all?”

Conservative and traditional values individuals’ attitudes towards the HPV vaccine certainly vary; with some solid social-values groups making the case that it isn’t a bad idea to have your child vaccinated.  But it is important to remember that this vaccination doesn’t guard against all strains of HPV, just a few and it certainly doesn’t guard against all the other sexually transmitted infections.  It will do nothing to prevent pregnancy, nor stop the attendant scourge of abortion nor prevent the emotional heartbreak that accompanies pre-marital sex.

So as a society we need to think long and hard about the wisdom of promoting a vaccine to young children that on the surface may be preventing one thing (HPV) but in the end might be perceived by our children as tacitly promoting sexual behavior outside of marriage, thereby opening the door to many other serious health issues.

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