Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, a conservative Christian, has bypassed the state legislature and ordered the vaccination of girls for the virus that causes cervical cancer, much to the chagrin of his constituents on the Religious Right. Why would he do this?
It seems that the pharmaceutical company Merck has been bankrolling an effort to get girls vaccinated, including providing funds to a group called Women in Government, and Perry has close ties with Merck:
Perry has several ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government.
Perry also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee during his re-election campaign.
I am in favor of vaccinating girls for HPV, so I would say that Perry has taken the right action in this case, but for reasons that say much about the interplay between corporate interests and religious conservatism as it relates to right wing politics. Ultimately, for this governor, his ties to corporate interests won out over his affiliation with the Religious Right. It is true that because drug companies provide a product that often serves public health needs, they and their shills may from time to time promote policies in individual cases that can support health needs against narrow minded opponents. But we should not be falling over ourselves praising Merck; the reality is that, for Merck, it is all about profits, not human needs. And for the governor of Texas, it is about his ties to corporate interests that, in this case, even trumps his religious convictions. Capitalism is always, ultimately, about profits. When religious conservatism runs smack up against this reality, which side ultimately wins?