In early February 2007, Texas governor and future presidential candidate Rick Perry issued what would be a contentious executive order, RP 65. Bypassing the Texas legislatures' discussions of similar policies (H.B. 215, 2007; S.B. 110, 2007), RP 65 required sixth-grade girls in Texas public schools receive the newly approved human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil (Blumenthal, 2007; Perry, 2007). Gardasil targets HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), which has been linked to cervical cancer. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in June 2006 for 9–26-year-old females; as for other childhood vaccines, a number of state legislatures introduced legislation to require Gardasil. Perry articulated his motivations:
Never before have we had an opportunity to prevent cancer with a simple vaccine. While I understand the concerns expressed by some, I stand firmly on the side of protecting life. The HPV vaccine does not promote sex, it protects women's health. In the past, young women who have abstained from sex until marriage have contracted HPV from their husbands and faced the difficult task of defeating cervical cancer. This vaccine prevents that from happening.
Providing the HPV vaccine doesn't promote sexual promiscuity anymore [sic] than providing the Hepatitis B vaccine promotes drug use. If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it claiming it would encourage smoking?
Finally, parents need to know that they have the final decision about whether or not their daughter is vaccinated. I am a strong believer in protecting parental rights, which is why this executive order allows them to opt out.(Perry, cited in Anonymous, 2007, italics added)