Uproar Over Texas' Required Vaccine for Girls

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," February 6, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The "Big Debate": parents vs. state lawmakers. Has Texas Governor Rick Perry stepped over the line when it comes to your child's health? Today the Republican governor defended his controversial order forcing all sixth grade girls in Texas to be vaccinated against a virus that causes cervical cancer.


GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: I understand the concern some of my great and dear friends have about requiring this vaccine, which is why parents can opt out if they so choose. But I refuse to look a young woman in the eye who suffers from this form of cancer and tell her that we could have stopped it, but we didn't.


GIBSON: Not only are parents outraged by the whole idea of forced vaccinations, but Perry's fellow Republicans, his allies, are also throwing him under the bus, blaming him for caving in to his buddies at Merck, the maker of the vaccine.

Is this all about money for some of Perry's friends? With me now is one concerned parent in Texas, Colleen Parro. She's also director of the Republican Coalition for Life.

So Colleen, the governor feels that he has a right to just sign an order and make every girl in Texas take this shot. Does he?

COLLEEN PARRO, CONCERNED TEXAS PARENT: I don't think so. I think he has usurped the rights of parents. He's trampled over the legislature in Texas and demolished the separation of powers. I think this is a very large blunder and I hope that he will have the good sense to withdraw his executive order or I hope if he doesn't that the legislature will overturn it. Or if that doesn't work I hear that lawsuits are in the works.

GIBSON: Colleen, let me put this on the screen. This is the question: Texas vaccinates girls: the governor's decision or is it the parents' call? I know there are some people, like yourself, objecting, but is there any kind of widespread groundswell against the governor's order?

PARRO: Yes, I think there is a very big widespread opposition to the governor's order and I think we're going to see more of it as the days go by. After all, 82 adverse events have already been reported to the CDC since Gardasil was put on the market in June.

You know, the governor has assumed the right of parents to make a decision about their children's medical care. But he has none of the responsibility to take care of the little girl should she have a serious medical consequence. This is totally wrong that he has done this, and it has to be reversed.

GIBSON: Colleen, the governor has issued this order. It is a big benefit for Merck. He's got two former chiefs of staff working for Merck; the mother of one of the chiefs of staff is involved in an organization pushing for this. Has the governor just caved in to his close buddies who now work for Merck?

PARRO: I certainly can't comment on his motivation. I don't know what his motivation is. But of course it is very clear in the media that his former chief of staff is being paid $250,000 to lobby for this decision by Merck, and also that Dianne White Delisi, who is a state legislator in Texas, is also working with Merck in this project and her daughter-in-law is the current chief of staff for Governor Perry. So there is a close relationship.

GIBSON: Colleen Parro, director of the Republican Coalition for Life, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

PARRO: You're welcome.

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