A bill was filed in the House to mandate HPV vaccinations for all sixth grade girls.

The bipartisan group of Kansas House members who sponsored the bill have added Kansas to a list of states ? including Virginia, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Texas, Kentucky and Michigan ? where legislators are considering similar measures.

Rep. Delia Garcia, D-Wichita, is the lead sponsor of the bill that would add the vaccine for the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, to the list of inoculations required for sixth-grade girls attending Kansas public schools.

The predictable opponents have emerged:

“What they are proposing is vaccinating a bunch of healthy girls that are responsible and that do come from good homes for the benefit of irresponsible people,” said Dawn Richardson, a co-founder of Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education.

One hopes that the girls are healthy. This vaccine is designed to keep them that way. Cervical cancer is not known for being a fun experience, and I’ve not heard anyone singing the praise of genital warts or vaginal cancer, either.

A child with HPV need not be irresponsible, nor have come from a bad home. Nationwide studies have found as many as 50% of adult women infected, with rates as high as 85% in at-risk communities. HPV is not just transmissible between sexual partners, but also from mother to child. That means that as many as half of the babies born have HPV infected mothers, and that infection can be lethal to the child. Saying that the vaccine only protects irresponsible parents and children is like saying that the measles vaccine only protects irresponsible children and parents.

For better or worse, there will be a provision for parents to opt-out on “medical, moral or philosophical” grounds.

Contact your representatives and tell them to support this bill. If enough people support it, the people who want to be irresponsible with their children’s lives can choose to opt-out.

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