The drug Gardasil is touted as a vaccine against the human papilloma virus, a virus spread by sexual activity and which can lead to cancer -- although, according to the Centers for Disease Control Web site, most of these viral infections clear up on their own.
The controversy over giving young girls the drug, though, comes in two main forms:
One is the claim that giving the drug encourages sexual activity, which to our mind is the same as saying seat belts encourage unsafe driving.
The other, and the one we want to address here, is the whole debate over which girls should get the shot and who gets to make the decision.
Judy Englehart, head of Erie County Job & Family Services, wants Gardasil given to all girls in the county's custody. Her rationale is many of these girls are sexually active -- not always by their own choice -- and so are at greater risk from HPV.
Harder to countenance, though, are moves such as those proposed in Texas and, here in Ohio, by State Rep. Edna Brown of Toledo, to give HPV vaccine to all girls in sixth grade.
This is a decision in which the child's parents should be intimately involved -- and Brown's bill addresses that, by letting parents opt out -- and it would be incumbent on parents to acquaint themselves thoroughly with HPV and its vaccine before making such a decision on behalf of their children.
More troubling are those children in government custody, as covered by Englehart's proposal in Erie County. We're not sure if the problem justifies putting that decision in the hands of government.