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Editorial: Trend of elected officials 'going it alone' must stop

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POSTED: February 22, 2007 5:07 a.m.
Next year, girls in Texas entering the sixth grade will be forced to take a new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.
It was a move ordered by the governor of the Lone Star State and one that’s caused significant controversy.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued the order Friday without the approval of the state legislature (who is also unable to repeal it) or the consent of parents. Instead, he used an executive order — a power granted by the Texas Constitution.
According to media reports, Perry compared the vaccine to another one that protects children against polio and said the new medication provides an opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer.
Was the governor’s decision to bypass any opposition a heartfelt effort to ensure children throughout his state have a better chance of staying healthy? That’s one possibility.
Could his decision to “go it alone” be the result of successful lobbying by the manufacturer of the new vaccine, Gardasil, Merck & Co.? Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding ... after all, the company doubled its lobbying budget in Texas.
Of course, the governor’s former chief of staff serving as one of the company’s lobbyists didn’t hurt the drugmaker’s chance of having state government mandate sales for its vaccine.
Estimates are in the billions of dollars in sales if the drug is mandated nationwide.
It also didn’t hurt the company’s odds of successful lobbying to have its political action committee contribute $6,000 to the governor’s re-election campaign.
So what does this situation mean for Georgians? Not surprisingly, the company is now bankrolling efforts across the country to force girls, 11 to 12 years of age, to take its vaccine.
Members of an advocacy group of female state legislators — Women in Government — have introduced many of the bills around the country.
Also not surprisingly, a top official from the drugmaker’s vaccine division sits on the group’s business council. Isn’t that cozy? It’s one of those things that make you go “hmm.”
Hmm. What happened to parents having a say about medical decisions pertaining to their children?
Hmm. What happened to the apparently fading concept of elected leaders listening to the wishes of the people they represent?
Hmm. What is happening to America?
While the new vaccine may prove beneficial in the long run, the growing trend of our elected leaders acting like tyrants could very well become lethal to our democratic way of life.
 

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