Excellent point, Erin.  I think your working assumption– that a woman is going to have sex at some point (and possibly at a relatively young age)– sets up a nice analogy to Texas’ larger problems surrounding sex ed.  Texas, I believe we can safely argue, does not do the greatest job in educating its young people about safe sex.  This very likely reflects the fact that many parents in Texas think it improper for the state to educate their children on sex, to pass out condums, etc.  This resembles the debate surrounding the HPV vaccines, except that in the case of sex ed, Texas is giving even greater deference to parents.  I’ll add another working assumption, which you hint at in your comment: whether we like it or not, kids are going to disobey their parents.  Now, the logic should pretty clearly apply when we put these assumptions together.  Given our biological impulses (to have sex) and our social impulses (to flout the rules of Mom and Dad), we seem to have a fairly strong argument that we need tools in place that promote health and safety when teenagers are less than perfect.

All of which begs the question: “who puts these tools in place?”  I think we can argue pretty effectively that this is the state’s charge.   We require certain safety features in automobiles because we know, no matter how hard we try to deter them through law, people will drive dangerously.  The HPV vaccines in this case seem to be basically the same thing: a measure taken in order to establish a baseline level of safety.  (It’s also worth mentioning, especially to the libertarians among us that the Texas program is, from what I gather, relatively cost-efficient.  Families will be required to pay for the vaccines themselves unless they qualify for an official waiver.)

But what abouth morality issue?  Is Texas stepping on the toes of its parents?  I would argue that they’re not.  There is nothing about the vaccine that inherently undermines a parent’s moral authority.  Even under a mandatory system, with no conscience clause, parents will still have every right to raise their children as they see fit.  This is not a law whose design is to somehow corrupt children.  Rather, it is a law that bears vitally on an area of public health, and these concerns should outweigh any minimal concerns parents might have about what the law is “implicitly” sanctioning. 

Morgan, I am left with no choice but to walk steadily toward the altar of outcomes.  It really just seems to make more sense here.

Daniel Corbett