Florida: Cancer Funds A Morality Issue?
July 14, 2005
In May, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush trimmed $30,000 for a cervical cancer elimination task force from the state's $63 billion budget. The money was for administrative costs for the seven-member task force, which would have studied the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer in Florida and the implications of a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cervical cancer. FDA could approve the vaccine, currently in trials, by the end of the year.
A state law created the task force two years ago but never allocated funds. Rep. Anne Gannon (D-Delray Beach) asked for $100,000 and the legislature agreed to give $30,000. Then the governor vetoed it. Gannon said the veto stemmed from fear of criticism from the religious right wing of the Republican Party.
"This doesn't kill the task force," said the governor's spokesperson Russell Schweiss, citing financial motives for the cut. "The money was earmarked for administrative expenses. He didn't feel they needed $30,000."
Religious conservatives oppose the vaccine because they fear inoculating children against an STD would encourage premarital sex. To be effective, the vaccine must be administered before a person is exposed to HPV; therefore, it would need to be included in a platform of vaccines given to children or adolescents. In March, a University of Texas study found 64 percent of parents would allow their children to receive the vaccine if it became available.
Doctors say those who oppose the vaccine misunderstand the nature of HPV, which is extremely common and does not deserve its association with promiscuity. According to CDC, at least 80 percent of sexually active women develop HPV at some point in their lives.
"It's hard to imagine that [$30,000] was a budget buster," said Paul Hull of the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society. "We look at cervical cancer as a public health issue. It's not a moral issue."
07.11.05; Meghan Meyer
A Community-Based Intervention Designed to Increase Preventive Health Care Seeking Among Adolescents: The Gonorrhea Community Action Project