Lawmakers hear cases for, against HPV vaccine

? Cancer survivors urged lawmakers Wednesday to approve legislation that would require sixth-grade girls to receive a vaccine against cervical cancer.

“We have an opportunity to protect our daughters from the virus that causes cervical cancer before exposure; don’t our daughters deserve that chance?” asked MaryAnne Caster of Wichita.

Cervical cancer was diagnosed in Caster in 1999 and she had a radical hysterectomy.

House Bill 2227 would require that female students enrolling in sixth grade to have the vaccine for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, known as HPV.

But several groups testified against the bill.

The Kansas Catholic Conference said there are many questions about the safety of Gardasil, the recently approved vaccine.

Right to Life of Kansas Inc. said parents should make decisions regarding the health of their children. “Such a mandate intrudes on those very parental rights and duties,” the group said in prepared testimony.

Last week, Texas became the first state to make the vaccination mandatory for girls entering the sixth grade starting in September 2008.