The Texas Controversy Over the Cervical Cancer Vaccine

School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia Univserity

27 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2010 Last revised: 26 Oct 2010

Date Written: April 23, 2007


When GARDASIL, a vaccine protecting against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2006, it sparked political and social debate among legislatures as well as advocacy groups. By drafting and submitting legislation for the mandatory vaccination against HPV for middle school girls in Texas on November 14th 2006, Representative Jessica Farrar (D- Houston) officially began the legislative process in the Texas House of Representatives. In response, tension and protest among political conservatives, religious advocacy groups, parental rights groups, as well as Merck — the pharmaceutical company responsible for the development and sale of the drug — ensued. Proponents championed the pro-life capabilities while opposition groups questioned the drugs alleged safety despite the findings in studies conducted by Merck. The pharmaceutical giant’s modus operandi of lobbying states to implement the use of its drug raised suspicion, as well as, the disclosed and undisclosed cash disbursements to interest groups and politicians. The issuance of the Executive Order by Governor Rick Perry of Texas to pilot state monies toward the purchase and administration of GARDASIL, proved only to intensify the already volatile situation. This method bypassed the normal legislative process, raising questions about the infringement on the democratic process. Inevitably, as the quagmire between social responsibility and political ideologies unfolds, the options for reaching a consensus may prove to be limited. Yet, as competing opponents and proponents strive to make their interests heard, their demands will not cease until a compromise is reached.

Keywords: Gardasil, Policy, Merk,HPV

Suggested Citation

Charles, Abigail Sheena, The Texas Controversy Over the Cervical Cancer Vaccine (April 23, 2007). School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia Univserity. Available at SSRN:

Abigail Sheena Charles (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

1902 Eastern parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11233
United States
7182078627 (Phone)

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