If things go the way common sense would dictate, Indiana will become the first state to immunize school girls against HPV. From the article in Indystar.com : “Senate Bill 327 would require HPV vaccines in girls before the start of sixth grade. A vaccine approved last year by the Food and Drug Administration wards off some strains of HPV, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Indiana children must get booster shots for diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella before middle school, so the proposal's backers say it makes sense to add the HPV vaccine to that age group. But schools wouldn't be forced to turn away girls who aren't vaccinated against HPV, as they do for other required shots.”
This is a completely bipartisan effort- also from the Star: “The state proposal, written by Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville, has the blessing of every female senator -- seven Democrats and six Republicans.”
We needn’t worry about the state’s reputation, though- there are champions of the state’s reputation as the home of the ignorant yahoo fighting against it: "This says, 'Hey, you can engage in sexual activity and not be at risk for this disease,' which is pretty pervasive," said Micah Clark, director of the American Family Association of Indiana. "Without an abstinence message, it could offer some false hope that you're invincible against this disease, and you're not." I was with them opposing handing out free condoms to 13 year olds in the public schools- I did think there was an element of mixed message, of “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” there... but the HPV vaccine? Does he imagine a 13 year old boy is going to say to a 13 year old girl, “Hey, that thing about you not getting cancer is hot- wanna do it?”
A slightly more serious challenge is the cost- some $2.7 million. That is, after all, 3.6% of what we’re spending on the new football stadium for the Colts- some of the luxury skyboxes might have to settle for a Leroy Nieman on the wall instead of a Chagall; but still, if enough girls are spared cervical cancer, it may be worth it.
This is a remarkably far-sighted and sensible proposal for a legislative body who spends most of it’s time and our money on things like fighting against Daylight Savings Time, or fighting against the federal judiciary for the right to dedicate opening prayers to Jesus... I can only hope against hope it passes.