Bill of the Week: Immunization Choice for Children
Rep. Sarah Davis’ HB 97 would grant children the right to consent to their own immunization for cancer treatment
House Bill 97 – Author: Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place
HB 97 would grant children the right to consent to their own immunization for cancer prevention and/or treatment, if the vaccine is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Food and Drug Administration. Certain strains of both hepatitis B and the human papillomavirus, often referred to as HPV – the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the CDC – are cancer-causing. While the youth vaccine can prevent HPV from developing into cervical cancer, conservative and religious groups widely contest the idea that children and teenagers should receive preventative treatments for STIs.
Texans for Vaccine Choice are horrified by Davis' bill, calling it "downright UN-Texan" and accusing it – along with Rep. Donna Howard's HB 241 – of undermining parents' "basic liberties." The PAC is concerned that Texas will pass a law similar to California's SB 277, which removed religious and personal belief exemptions from state vaccine requirements for school-aged children.
HB 97 goes hand in hand with two other bills filed by Davis: HB 107 would require the Department of State Health Services to submit annual reports on immunization rates for HPV, and HB 126 would require that parents participate in an online education course before submitting for a vaccine exemption. Davis' office did not respond to questions about the bills, but a statement from Brigette Dechant, her chief of staff, notes: "Not one piece of legislation that [Davis] is filing will take away a parent's right to choose. They will support CDC recommended guidelines and promote less confusion when parents decide what is best for their children." A cancer survivor herself, it's no wonder Davis would advocate for disease prevention.