10/5/11: California parents, grandparents call on Gov. Brown to veto AB 499

October 5, 2011 -- For Immediate Release

California Parents, Grandparents Call on Gov. Brown to Veto AB 499
'Bureaucratic laziness is no excuse to deny patients essential information and trample parents' consent'

Sacramento, California  - A bill disrespectful to patients and parents on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown should be vetoed, says a leading California family issues organization.

While proponents are pushing AB 499 to coerce preteens and teens into controversial HPV injections, "Bureaucratic laziness is no excuse to deny patients essential information and trample parents' consent for their precious children, who lack the brain development to make big decisions like this," said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, a family issues organization that promotes moral virtues for the common good. "It is unfair and wrong for AB 499 to coerce children behind their parents' backs, when picking up the phone to talk with a child's mother or father is the respectful way to communicate vital information and answer important questions. This poorly-written and expensive bill tramples people's God-given rights."

"Parents and grandparents are tired of 'nanny bills' that push heavy-handed 'solutions' to problems that don't exist," Thomasson said. "If a school nurse thinks a girl needs an HPV shot, she should contact the parent, explain it, answer questions, and ask permission. How in the world can a 12- or 13-year-old girl provide informed consent when she's not told the risks and limitations of the drug and she lacks the brain development and necessary wisdom to make this serious decision? She can't even drive a car or vote or get married, but she can consent to this? If parents weren't so angry about AB 499, they'd be laughing."


1. Health risks of injections not disclosed to patients or parents: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states there have already been 18,727 reports of adverse events, including 68 deaths. (Source: "Reports of Health Concerns Following HPV Vaccination," CDC, June 22, 2011 http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hpv/gardasil.html)

2. Failure to disclose that injections do not cover all HPV strains that can contribute to cervical cancer: "It is important to note that Gardasil may not completely protect anyone, nor has it been shown to protect against diseases associated with the other 26 or more sexually transmitted HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV. This vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancer cases, making it crucial for women who have (or have not) been vaccinated to continue routine cervical cancer screenings, such as annual pap smears. In addition, Gardasil is not a treatment for cancer or genital warts and is not effective for those who already been infected with HPV."  (Source: "Gardasil Continues to Stir Heavy Controversy," USCience Review, June 16, 2011 http://www-scf.usc.edu/~uscience/gardasil_vaccine.html)

"Patients and families should be made aware that the vaccine is not fully effective until all three doses are given. They should also be reminded that 30% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV strains not included in the current HPV vaccines and regular gynecologic exams and pap tests are still necessary. Also 10% of genital warts will not be prevented. Parents and patients should understand that this vaccine offers no protection against other forms of sexually transmitted infections." (Source: "Human Papilloma Virus Vaccination," American College of Pediatrics, June 2011 http://www.acpeds.org/Human-Papilloma-Virus-Vaccination.html)

3. Failure to require that fact sheets be provided to patients and their parents: (Example: "Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 25, 2011, http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm)

4. Promotes a false sense of security that further endangers sexually active minors:
a. Preteens and teens receiving shots may falsely assume they can be sexually active and not contract HPV
b. Preteens and teens receiving shots may falsely think they can be sexually active and not contract other STDs, including HIV
c. Some female preteens and teens receiving shots may falsely believe they can be sexually active and not become pregnant
d. Many female preteens and teens could falsely believe they can receive shots and not need regular Pap tests starting at age 21

Dr. Diane Harper was the lead developer of Gardasil, the HPV vaccine manufactured by Merck Pharmaceuticals, and is a professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. She says, "The best way to prevent cervical cancer is with routine Pap screening starting at age 21 years. Vaccination cannot prevent as many cervical cancers as can Pap screening. Pap screening with vaccination does NOT lower your chances of cervical cancer -- Pap screening and vaccination lowers your chances of an abnormal Pap test. Gardasil is associated with GBS [Guillian-Barre Syndrome] that has resulted in deaths. Pap screening using a speculum and taking cells from the cervix is not a procedure that results in death...Gardasil can be offered along with Cervarix as an option to prevent abnormal Pap test results in those women who can make an informed decision about how much they value this benefit compared to the rare risk of GBS. If a woman has no access to Pap screening, receiving HPV vaccines may help reduce cervical cancer IF the vaccines last long enough. At this time, Gardasil is proven to last for at least 5 years, and Cervarix for at least 8.5 years. Health policy analyses show that there will be no reduction in cervical cancer unless the vaccine lasts at least 15 years." (Source: "Gardasil Developer Claims Vaccine Prevents Abnormal Pap Tests, Not Cervical Cancer," TruthAboutGardasil.org, February 14, 2011 http://www.free-press-release.com/news-gardasil-developer-claims-vaccine-prevents-abnormal-pap-tests-not-cervical-cancer-1297697975.html)

5. Coerces teens and preteens, who do not have the appropriate reasoning ability, to make this serious decision:
"Giedd, who studies brain development at NIH's National Institute of Mental Health, explained that scientists have only recently learned more about the path of brain growth. One important finding, he said, showed that the frontal cortex area-which governs judgment, decision-making and impulse control-doesn't fully mature until around age 25.

Wise Choices For Guiding Teens:
· Until age 25, the part of our brain that governs judgment, decision-making and impulse control is still under construction, so a parent's job as "foreman" usually isn't over when teens turn 18.
· Teen emotions and behavior can be unpredictable. Watch for emotional fall-out, wear a hard hat and choose battles wisely.
· Be a good model; teach young ones and teens respectfulness by showing respect-to them, to others in the family and in the community, and to yourself.
· Assume they're always listening, observing and learning, even when it seems like they're not."
(Source: "Teen Brains: Still Under Construction, Parents Play Important Role," National Institutes of Health (NIH), September 2005) http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2005/september2005/docs/01features_02.htm)

"Teens' maturity level depends on what is being measured...Psychosocial capacities are still changing (resistance to peer influence, future orientation, sensation seeking...)..."Why do teenagers take risks? A) The thrill factor B) Susceptibility to peer influence C) Underdeveloped ability to inhibit inappropriate response tendencies and regulate emotions D) Underdeveloped capacity for reasoning and planning" (Source: "How the Teen Brain Matures: Cognitive Control & Prefontal Cortex," Silvia A. Bunge, Ph. D., Department of Psychology & Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, UC Berkeley, February 2009 http://bungelab.berkeley.edu/conference09/LearningBrain_Bunge_Feb09.pdf)

6. Failure to involve the parent, who can ask important questions and is the only one capable of providing informed consent, makes this bill A VIRTUAL MANDATE upon all targeted teens and preteens.

7. Costs the State of California funds it doesn't have: Because SB 499 circumvents parents, the bill specifies that "The minor's parents or guardian are not liable for payment." With expectations that AB 499 would cost several million dollars per year, the State of California is liable for increased General Fund obligations. Furthermore, there is a concern over these expenditures being wasted on Gardasil injections: "To immunize a patient, the vaccine requires the administration of three shots over a six-month period at a cost of $120 per injection. However, Centers for Disease Control statistics say that 73 percent of teenagers receiving injections never complete the series." (Source: "'Waste' in HPV vaccines shows need for vetoing child consent bill, says critic," Catholic News Agency, September 18, 2011 http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/waste-in-hpv-vaccines-shows-need-for-child-consent-bill-veto-warns-critic/)

8. Recommended but not necessary to prevent cervical cancer:
"Can cervical cancer be prevented without a vaccine?
In most cases, yes, cervical cancer can be prevented without a vaccine. Pap tests done according to American Cancer Society guidelines and with proper follow up will prevent most but not all cases of cervical cancer. Pap tests can find cervix cell changes early, before they become cervical cancer. These changed cervix cells can then be killed or removed to keep them from becoming cancer.

"When cancer screening guidelines are followed, the Pap test also finds most but not all cervical cancers at an early, curable stage. Most cervical cancers in the United States are diagnosed in women who have never had a Pap test, or who haven't had a Pap test in 5 or more years."
(Source: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Cancer, and HPV Vaccines -- Frequently Asked Questions, American Cancer Society, January 3, 2011

9. Failure to inform minors and their parents of the superior protection of abstinence:
"Researchers find kids say 'yes' to abstinence-only education," Penn Current, University of Pennsylvania , December 2, 2010 http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/node/4093

For the husband-and-wife research team of John and Loretta Jemmott, abstinence education is not a political or moral issue. "We saw abstinence as one of two general strategies that could be used to reduce unprotected sexual intercourse," says John Jemmott III, professor in Penn's Annenberg School for Communication and professor of communication in psychiatry in the School of Medicine . "If you want to reduce STDs, you want to reduce the number of times people have sex without condoms. You can do that in two ways: You can have them use a condom on more occasions, or you can have them abstain from sex. From looking at the literature, we saw most of the emphasis had been on the condom-use side as opposed to abstinence."

The Jemmotts recently published a study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showing that an abstinence-only intervention presented to a group of inner-city pre-teens was more successful in delaying the onset of sexual activity than a program that taught general health.

"This is the first time an abstinence-only intervention has been found to be effective in a randomized controlled trial," says John Jemmott, the study's lead researcher.

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the study involved 662 African-American Philadelphia public school students in grades six and seven. The children, whose average age was 12, were randomly assigned to attend one of four eight-hour Saturday programs: an abstinence-only program, a safer sex-only program, an abstinence and safer sex combination, or a health promotion control program. "We picked an age group where an abstinence intervention would be most likely to show an effect," Jemmott says. "Not only the age, but African Americans begin having sex at an earlier age as opposed to other groups."

The abstinence education curriculum was developed by Loretta Sweet Jemmott, professor in psychiatric mental health nursing in Penn's School of Nursing , in collaboration with a researcher from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. It did not advocate waiting until after marriage to have sex or disparage sexually active people, she says. Rather, it emphasized the "benefits of abstinence" in terms of helping pre-teens reach their goals.

"[The students] discussed their plans for the future, their hopes and dreams, and they saw how the potential consequences of HIV might interfere with their ability to reach their goals," John Jemmott says.

After the classes were complete, the researchers followed the students over the course of the next two years, checking in with them periodically to find out about their sexual behavior. The students submitted their answers through written questionnaires.

"There's always a problem with socially desirable responses, and we were certainly aware of that," John Jemmott says. "We tried to set conditions where they were most likely to give honest responses."

Those results were staggering: The study showed a 33 percent reduction in self-reported sexual intercourse among the abstinence-only group, compared to the control group.

This was big news. Media outlets from National Public Radio to ABC World News to The New York Times carried stories about it, and the study became fodder for those on the ideological extremes of the issue.

But the Jemmotts, who have worked together for two decades, continue to tout the study based only on its scientific findings. John Jemmott would like to conduct another, larger study in order to compare abstinence-only education intervention to a program that teaches both abstinence and safe sex, and Loretta Jemmott continues to work on an abstinence-only curriculum. "This is important work to do," Loretta Jemmott says. "We want to come up with strategies to reduce HIV infections, STDs and pregnancy rates for young people."

ABSTRACT: "Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months," Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 164, No. 2, February 2010 http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/164/2/152

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SaveCalifornia.com is a leading West Coast nonprofit, nonpartisan organization standing strong for moral virtues for the common good. We represent children and families in the areas of marriage and family, parental rights, the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, financial freedom, and back-to-basics education.



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