Why is the Gardisil debate problematic for Rick Perry? One fresh reason came up when I talked to Debra Medina, the unsuccessful Tea Party candidate in his 2010 GOP primary. The previous year – long after he’d taken his lumps on Gardisil – Perry had signed the Jamie Shanbaum Act, which mandated anti-spinal menengitis vaccines for all college students. (It was named for a college student who contracted menengitis and had to have parts of her legs and fingers amputated.) The new law was less offensive to social conservatives than the HPV executive decision had been, largely because, well, college students are older than young girls who might engage in sexual activity. But Medina argues that the Perry’s signature on this bill, and on a companion 2011 bill that expanded the number of people subject to the vaccinations, leaves no doubt about where he sides in parent/state discussions.
“Not only did you not veto it, you signed it!” says Medina. “You could have said oh, I learned my lesson from the HPV thing, but you didn’t even do that!”