South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley took a page from the Michele Bachmann Book of Ill-Informed Health Policy on Tuesday by vetoing a bill that would offer an optional HPV vaccine to seventh-graders.
The sexually-transmitted virus is a leading cause of cervical cancer, a disease for which South Carolina ranks ninth in the country for related deaths. HPV is easily prevented by the vaccine, but health professionals say it should be administered before a girl starts having sex in order to be effective.
“This bill had bi-partisan support and gives optional education and preventative vaccines to adolescents in an effort to thwart cervical cancer,” said Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Denmark), who introduced the bill. “This is a common sense approach to a very serious problem.”
But in vetoing the bill, Gov. Haley called Sellers’ plan “a precursor to another taxpayer-funded health care mandate” — even though the vaccine does not rely on taxpayer funding and is not mandatory.
In fact, Haley co-sponsored a bill back in 2007 that would have made the vaccine mandatory. But that was before she became “National Nikki,” and began kowtowing to the scientifically-challenged policies of a party that seems to be going to war against women’s health.
“Her political shift shows that this decision was politically motivated, and not in the best interest of South Carolina’s young adults,” said women’s health advocate Emma Davidson of the Tell Them e-advocacy network. “Protecting young people’s rights to prevent diseases, including HPV, should be a top priority for our policy makers.”
“With this veto, Nikki Haley has confirmed everyone’s suspicions that she puts her own selfish political ambitions ahead of the people of South Carolina,” Sellers commented on Tuesday. “To call this measure unnecessary is demeaning and insulting to the heroic women who fight this cancer everyday. I am deeply disappointed that politics once again has prevailed over women’s health.”
Lawmakers will have an opportunity to override Gov. Haley’s veto during a special session of the General Assembly. While the Senate supported the bill 40-2 during debate, it only passed 63-40 in the House — so it remains to be seen whether lawmakers can muster up the majority needed to break the veto. The General Assembly has traditionally overriden the vast majority of Gov. Haley’s vetoes, so look for updates on this one as they develop.