Mandatory Vaccine Debated in Austin

It's causing some major controversy...Governor Rick Perry's plan to require school age girls to have the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV shot.

Today, doctors, public health experts and cervical cancer survivors testified in Austin.

Lawmakers held a public hearing on legislation aimed at overriding the governor's anti-cancer vaccine mandate.

The bill by state Representative Dennis Bonnen -- a Republican from Angleton -- would bar the state from requiring schoolgirls to get the vaccine.

The hearing marks the first chance for the public to comment on Governor Perry's executive order making it mandatory for girls to receive the vaccine starting in the sixth grade.

Perry's order directed the Health and Human Services Commission to adopt rules requiring the vaccine as of September 2008.

The shots protect girls and women from the HPV strains that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.

It prompted a flood of criticism from conservatives who say it contradicts Texas' abstinence-only sex education policies and strays too far into the lives of families.

Critics also balk at the 360 dollar cost for the three-shot series and said the vaccine -- called Gardasil -- is too new to force on children as young as eleven or 12.

But the governor and the mandate's supporters say the vaccine offers a unique opportunity to fight a cancer that kills 37-hundred American women annually.