By Gudrun Schultz

  UNITED STATES, February 2, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A nation-wide campaign to introduce mandatory vaccination against the sexually-transmitted Human Papilloma Virus for girls as young as nine is being funded by the drug company that produced the vaccine.

  Gardasil, the highly-publicized vaccine recently developed to prevent HPV infections in sexually active young women, has been aggressively marketed in the US as a protection against the disease responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancer. HPV is contracted through sexual activity, with sexually promiscuous behavior greatly increasing the likelihood of infection.

  The massive drug company Merck and Co. developed the vaccine. Merck is helping to fund efforts to establish state laws mandating immunization of 11 and 12 year olds, according to a report released by the Life Issues Institute Jan.31. The company has admitted to funneling money through the advocacy group Women in Government, with a membership of female state legislators. Members of the group have backed many of the state measures to introduce mandatory immunization with Gardasil.

  Merck has refused to say how much money is being spent on the lobbying efforts, but reports say their budget in Texas alone has doubled to between $150,000 to $250,000.
 
  The US Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil in July 2006 for sale and marketing to girls as young as nine. Later that month a CDC committee voted unanimously to recommend that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine.

  Legislation has been introduced in five states that would make vaccination for HPV mandatory for young girls, including Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A similar bill in Maryland is to be withdrawn, but will likely be reintroduced during the next legislative session, according to a report by the Kaiser Network.

  Most of the bills would require girls to receive the immunization by age 11—some contain parental opt-out clauses that would allow parents to refuse the vaccine for their daughter by signing a document indicating they were informed on the issue.

  If the state measures are ratified, the financial boon to Merck would be significant. As it stands the company stands to reach at least $1 billion in sales per year, according to estimates by drug-industry analyst Steve Brozak with WBB Securites.

  Forcing the vaccine on young girls is an infringement on the rights of their parents, opponents say, and ignores the fact that HPV is a highly preventable disease largely caused by risky sexual behavior.

“Even though most states propose opt-out provisions for parents who have moral objections, the requirement intrudes on families’ privacy and it begins to chip away at parents’ authority to make moral and medical decisions for their children,” said Bradley Mattes, executive director of the Life Issues Institute. “Further, it sends a conflicting message to children whose parents advocate abstinence until marriage.

  Mandating immunization sends the message to young girls that they are expected to engage in sexual activity, Mattes said.

“It appears nearly everyone discussing the issue seems to have abdicated the concept of abstinence until marriage - the best and most simple answer.”

  As well, Mattes said the vaccine would undo years of effort to reduce the pregnancy and abortion rate of teenage girls by providing a “false sense of security among many girls, resulting in more teenage sex, other STDs, pregnancy and abortion.”

  See Life Issues Institute report:
  http://www.lifeissues.org/breakingnews.html

  See report from the Kaiser Network:
  http://kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=42648