Byline: Rebecca Hagelin, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Culture Challenge of the Week: Government and Sex-pushers Versus Parents
Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown has a ticking time bomb on his desk: He must sign a recently passed bill by Sunday for it to become law. His signature, however, would set an explosive precedent: The bill would allow children as young as 12 years old to give valid consent - without their parent's knowledge or permission - to receive vaccines that aim to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
The groups pushing the governor to sign the bill include the usual reproductive rights suspects: the ACLU, NARAL Pro-Choice California and Planned Parenthood, to name a few. Their justification for cutting parents out of the decision-making process is the usual tripe: When it comes to sex, parents cannot be trusted to act in their children's best interests.
The bill meets an urgent need, says its sponsor, Assemblymember Toni Atkins (a lesbian, community organizer and longtime advocate for LGBT special privileges). She argues that letting individual parents decide whether their child should receive, for example, the HPV vaccine amounts to playing Russian roulette with kids' lives. Why? Because random clinic workers, school nurses or pharmaceutical representatives surely stand in a better position than the child's parents to judge whether - for that particular child - the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the risks.
Parents groups are up in arms, and all Americans should be. STD vaccines (such as Gardasil, which aims to prevent the human papillomavirus, or HPV) are preventive measures - not acute medical emergencies. STDs, while potentially serious, are not public health emergencies on the same order as potential outbreaks of typhoid, diphtheria and other easily communicable diseases. Those air- or water-borne diseases can spread like wildfire through a population.
STD outbreaks, on the other hand, are driven by sexual behavior and individual choice. They do not require massive emergency vaccination campaigns to keep the public safe - and certainly not campaigns that bypass parents and target 12-year-olds.
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