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California Catholic leaders decry child STD vaccinations
By Benjamin Mann
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

.- Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez joined the California Catholic Conference in criticizing a new law that allows 12-year-olds to receive vaccinations against sexual diseases without their parent’s permission.

“Parents bear the first responsibility for their children’s physical and spiritual well-being. This new law, however, bypasses parental involvement, wisdom and guidance,” said Archbishop Gomez in his Oct. 10 response to Governor Jerry Brown's decision to sign the vaccination proposal into law.

The new law, which Brown authorized on Oct. 9, allows children as young as 12 to receive vaccinations and other medications to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases, including the Human Papilloma virus (HPV).

Archbishop Gomez called the governor's move a “serious erosion of parental rights in California,” saying children are “not mature enough to think through the consequences of complicated medical decisions.”

“As a result of this law, children will now face these decisions without parental guidance — and likely under pressure from adults and corporate interests that have financial and other motives to promote these medications,” he noted.

“Rather than excluding parents, our government should be working to support and assist them in making the best decisions possible for their children, especially when serious medical and moral issues are at stake.”

Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the bishops' public policy work at the California Catholic Conference, said he was “puzzled and disappointed” by Governor Brown's decision to remove parental oversight from childrens' STD vaccination choices.

Dolejsi explained that he was puzzled in light of the governor's cautious approach to other matters involving children and parents.

“On the same day he signed AB 499, the Governor signed a 'first-in-the-nation' law to prevent children under 18 years of age from using tanning beds,” the conference director pointed out.

“Just a month earlier, on September 7, 2011, he vetoed a bill to mandate helmets on underage youth, expressing his concern about the 'seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state,' saying 'I believe parents have the ability and responsibility to make good choices for their children.'”

“In this case, it appears that by signing AB 499, the Governor abandoned the principle of parental responsibility he so eloquently stated earlier,” Dolejsi observed.

William B. May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good, told CNA in September that the HPV vaccination of teenagers would likely end up squandering resources, as well as undermining families.

As May explained, 73 percent of teenagers who sign up to receive the Gardasil vaccine never complete the series of three shots, which must be received over the course of three months at a cost of $120 each.


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