March 3, 2007

Colorado, Kansas, West Virginia Introduce Legislation On HPV Vaccines, Abortion

The following highlights recent news on state actions regarding human papillomavirus vaccines and abortion.

HPV Vaccines

  • Colorado: State House Minority Leader Mike May (R) and state Sen. Suzanne Williams (D) recently introduced a bill that would require girls ages 12 and older to show proof they have received Merck's HPV vaccine Gardasil or show that their parents have declined the vaccine, the Denver Post reports. The bill also would require health care providers to give parents information about Gardasil, HPV and HPV's link to cervical cancer (Auge, Denver Post, 1/16). According to Merck, Gardasil -- which is given in three injections over six months and costs $360 -- in clinical trials has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in July 2006 voted unanimously to recommend that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine. CDC has added Gardasil to its Vaccines for Children Program, which provides no-cost immunizations to children ages nine to 18 covered by Medicaid, Alaska Native and American Indian children, and some uninsured and underinsured children (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 11/2/06). According to the Post, the Child Health Plan Plus also will pay for the vaccine in Colorado. About 57,000 children in the state are in families who lack health insurance and who have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus, according to the Colorado Children's Campaign. Some groups who oppose government vaccine requirements, as well as some social conservatives who say giving Gardasil to young girls could encourage sexual promiscuity, have voiced opposition to the measure. May said the bill would not mandate vaccination. "Other than that it's parental choice," he said. The legislation would take effect in 2008 if passed (Denver Post, 1/16).

  • West Virginia: State Delegate Bonnie Brown (D) on Wednesday announced that she is sponsoring a bill that would require all girls entering the sixth grade to receive Gardasil, the AP/BusinessWeek reports. West Virginia has the second-highest cervical cancer mortality rate in the U.S. Brown said details of how the vaccine -- which costs $360 for the full course -- will be funded are not in the legislation. She said the state Public Employees Insurance Agency and Medicaid will cover for the vaccinations for some people, and some private insurers are assessing the cost to cover Gardasil. There are 10,235 girls entering the sixth the grade this year in West Virginia, Department of Education spokesperson Liza Cordeiro said (Breen, AP/BusinessWeek, 1/16).

Abortion Regulations

  • Kansas: The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday said it would sponsor a bill aimed at increasing the penalties for homicides of pregnant women, and the state House Judiciary Committee on Thursday is scheduled to hold a hearing on legislation (HB 2006, SB 2) that would define a "person" in Kansas criminal code as an "unborn child" from the time of conception, the AP/Wichita Eagle reports. Similar bills to the House measure in 2002 and 2005 passed in the state House but were not voted on in the state Senate. The House proposal is backed by abortion-rights opponents, while abortion-rights supporters have suggested that the state instead make it a crime to harm a fetus or increase the penalties for crimes against pregnant women and girls. Ashley Anstaett -- spokesperson for Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison (D), who supports abortion rights -- said increased penalties for crimes against pregnant women are the "best way to deal with these kind of situations" (Hanna, AP/Wichita Eagle, 1/16).

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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