March 24, 2008
Contact: Martin Cothran
Family group calls on state legislator to withdraw bill requiring HPV vaccine
for middle school girls
for middle school girls
LEXINGTON, KY—“Now that we know Rep. Watkins opposes divisive legislation, we are calling on him to withdraw his HPV vaccination requirement for middle school girls,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. Rep. David Watkins (D-Henderson) announced in last week’s House Health and Welfare Committee meeting that he was opposed to controversial legislation when arguing against a bill barring domestic partner benefits.
“We see this not only as an opportunity for Rep. Watkins to walk the talk on his opposition to controversial legislation,” said Cothran, “but to show his support of parental rights—and, of course to avoid embarrassment for arguing against a bill he opposes on grounds that would also undermine his own legislation.”
HB 396, of which Watkins is the primary sponsor, requires that middle school girls be vaccinated with the Gardasil vaccine which prevents the transmission of some forms of the Human Papilloma virus as a condition of school attendance. The Family Foundation has opposed the requirement, arguing that the vaccine has nothing to do with disease transmission at school and that parents should make the decision about whether their children should be vaccinated with drugs that are still essentially experimental.
“We certainly understand Rep. Watkin’s concern about divisive legislation,” said Cothran, “and we realize that when he lectured a senator about sponsoring domestic partner legislation in last week’s Health and Welfare Committee meeting because it was controversial that he probably wasn’t thinking about his own bill, which has been one of the most divisive pieces of legislation over the last two sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly.” Watkins launched on what some have called a “tirade” during the consideration of SB 112, sponsored by Vernie McGaha, attacking the senator and The Family Foundation because the bill was “divisive.”
“I think some people do this so that they can get funds for their organization,” said Watkins. “I think they use that as a whip to create and work up division in our society, which is a negative thing. Sen. McGaha, don’t you see the negativity that you cause and the division that you cause in our state? You’re supposed to be up here representing people to help people, not to hurt us. You know, this is a divisive issue. Surely you’re intelligent enough to know that and to realize that this creates division in the Senate, and division in your House of Representatives.”
“We’re fairly certain that, after Rep. Watkin’s regained his composure, he must have realized that his own HPV vaccine bill was at least as controversial as Sen. McGaha’s bill. But we’re confident that Rep. Watkins doesn’t want to be criticizing bills he opposes for reasons that would also undermine his own legislation. And while he is searching his conscience about that, he might consider also withdrawing HB 443, his 70-cent tax on cigarettes, since that bill has turned out to be pretty divisive too.”