Rick Perry's "Pro-Life" Cervical Cancer Position Shifts


Rick Perry has been backing away from his controversial move to mandate the vaccination of middle school girls against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. There’s really only one question here: Was it “pro-life” or “pro-sex”?

Of course, there have been some other questions, about side-effects so soon after approval, his administration’s ties to a Merck lobbyist, and/or the legislative process, but whatever. As the Washington Post reported,

Until this past week, Perry has staunchly defended the vaccine decision, casting it as a “pro-life” attempt to protect women’s health and disparaging objections from social conservatives. At a defiant news conference in May 2007, Perry chastised legislators for overturning the order; he was flanked by several women who had contracted the virus, including one who had been raped.

In remarks to reporters this past weekend, Perry used different language, saying the process — in which he bypassed the legislature but then got slapped down by them, leading to an ultimate reversal of the plan — was a “mistake.” He says, “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.”

So far, so hedged. Politico’s Ben Smith and Byron Tau dug up the email records and found out that not only was Perry not doing his “research,” he wasn’t doing very much at all, at least in the 700 pages on email discussions. “His own emails appear in only one thread in the entire 700 page cache,” they note. In that thread, he appeared to pronounce the following: “FYI” and “Fwd to the correct folks in the office.” Sure, executives delegate, but he would come to regret this one.

Here’s what also interesting about the emails: When one aide complains that he’s getting flak at church, there’s the following reply:

“Are they hammering you on the ‘we’re saying its ok to have sex’ part or the ‘government telling us what to do with our kids’ part??” a press aide, Nora Belcher responded, providing a rebuttal: “A woman who remains a virgin until she gets married can get HPV from her new husband, who may not even know he has it, and then get cervical cancer. There are still plenty of good reasons to stay abstinent. Emailed [another aide]: “THIS IS ABOUT PREVENTING CANCER. THIS IS NOT ABOUT SEX.”

The sluts, meanwhile, are welcome to die in agony. That’s pro-life.

The HPV Files: In Emails, Perry Mostly Absent [Politico]
Rick Perry Reverses Himself, Calls HPV Vaccine Mandate A Mistake [WP]

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