Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of legislation addressing a sexually transmitted virus is “deeply troubling for women in South Carolina,” state Rep. Bakari Sellers said.
“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 said in a written statement. “This bill had bipartisan support and gives optional education and preventative vaccines to adolescents in an effort to thwart cervical cancer.
“This is a common sense approach to a very serious problem. To call this measure unnecessary is demeaning and insulting to the heroic women who fight this cancer every day.”
Genital human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Most people with HPV do not develop health problems from it, but it can lead to cervical and other types of cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sellers’ bill called for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer an optional three-dose cervical cancer vaccination series to seventh-grade girls. The service, coupled with an educational program, would begin with the 2012-2013 school year when state and federal funds become available.
Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed the bill on Monday. In her veto message to the House, Haley called the bill “superfluous” and a “suspended unfunded mandate.”
Haley said nothing in current law precludes DHEC from performing any of the activities described in the bill.
“Undoubtedly, once the mandate is established in law, advocates will argue that it necessarily follows that this new program must now be funded by the General Assembly,” Haley said. “I have vetoed this bill because although it would have no real impact today, it is a precursor to another taxpayer-funded health care mandate.”
Sellers, a Democrat from Denmark, said he doesn’t know if there are enough votes to override the veto.
“I challenge her to talk to the women with this cancer to see if they don’t want their daughters to deal with what they had to deal with,” Sellers said. “I have spoken with parents from across the state and even those who don’t want their daughters getting the vaccine are in favor of having the right to choose.
“If it can’t be overridden, reintroducing it next year is something I’ll have to think about.”
Contact the writer: psarata@times anddemocrat.com or 803-533-5540.