Against cervical cancer, before he was for it

Rick Perry flip-flops about HPV vaccination, and lies about it. Jay Root of the Texas Tribune nails him.

The good thing about Rick Perry, it is said, is that you know where he stands. Well, sometimes. Other times, he finds a way to rise above mere principle.

Jay Root of the Texas Tribune completely nails Perry on the question of Gardasil, a vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

In 2007 Perry tried to require vaccination against HPV, which is linked to cervical cancer, by executive order. The Texas legislature promptly passed a law reversing that order, and Perry, lacking the votes to sustain a veto let the bill become law without his signature. But he kept insisting he’d been right all along.

Here he is in 2007:

In the next year, more than a thousand women will likely be diagnosed with this insidious yet mostly preventable disease. I challenge legislators to look these women in the eyes and tell them, “We could have prevented this disease for your daughters and granddaughters, but we just didn’t have the gumption to address all the misguided and misleading political rhetoric.”

And in 2010:

Let me tell you why it wasn’t a bad idea: Even though that was the result I was looking for, and that becoming the standard procedure for protecting young women against this very heinous deadly dreadful disease, it caused a national debate. I knew I was going to take a political hit … at the end of the day, I did what was right from my perspective, and I did something that saved people’s lives and, you know, that’s a big deal.

That was then; this is now. Now Perry can’t afford to be outflanked on the Sexual Purity issue by Michelle Bachmann. So now Perry says he was wrong, but that he “listened.”

I signed an executive order that allowed for an opt-out, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry. But here’s what I learned: When you get too far out in front of the parade, they will let you know, and that’s exactly what our Legislature did, and I saluted it and I said, ‘Roger that, I hear you loud and clear.’ And they didn’t want to do it and we don’t, so enough said.

Perry has now walked back both is support for states’ rights with respect to marriage and his support for public health with respect to HPV vaccination.

Not just a flip-flopper; a liar about his flip-flopping.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “Against cervical cancer, before he was for it”

  1. So, the Legislature over-rode his executive order, making his opinion moot?

    I note that Perry didn’t say he was wrong on the merits, but that he was too far ahead of the electorate. That’s about the most graceful way for a politician to concede defeat on a question like this. I really don’t see the “flip-flop.” Perhaps if my glasses had the right partisan lenses …

  2. One thing that makes this discussion particularly fun is that there are now serious questions about the merits of early vaccination. At the time, the medical establishment was saying that there hadn’t been enough research on it for universal vaccination to go ahead. It turns out that there are some problematic side effects to using the vaccine in young girls.

    Rick Perry has never had an opinion one way or the other on cervical cancer. He is profoundly indifferent to it, really. In 2007, he was trying to do a favor for Merck, in which a relative had a substantial investment, by giving them a large captive market for one of their products. It really shows that his first instinct is to shower wealth on wealthy friends. Pandering to the religious right is his second impulse, and he got caught between them in this instance.

  3. Bruce, in 2007 he more or less accused the legislators who over-rode him of wanting girls to get cancer. In 2011, he recalls that he “saluted” and “said ‘roger that’.” And you don’t see a change of position?

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