As legislators, we take a pledge not only to uphold the laws of South Carolina, but also to put the health and safety of all of her citizens above our own political interests. This is why we believe it is so important that we set aside partisan differences and pass the Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, a bill that we have sponsored in our respective chambers.
After a seven-year process, the House took great strides in improving the health of South Carolinians by overwhelmingly passing this legislation with bipartisan support. We have the support of Gov. Nikki Haley, and it is now up to the Senate to deliver it to her for her signature. We need to make sure that it is not stalled there. We know this common-sense bill will save lives. It would allow parents to more easily access information about the HPV vaccine so that, working together, we can lower South Carolina’s high cervical cancer mortality rate.
South Carolina ranks among the highest in the nation for cervical cancer mortality rates — and among the lowest for the number of women receiving the HPV vaccine. This legislation would increase awareness about the direct link between HPV and cancer by providing educational materials directly to parents — so that they can begin to have a conversation with their family doctor about the benefits and the realities of both the vaccine and the virus.
Cervical cancer is a critical public-health problem — but it is preventable. Medical experts not only agree that the HPV vaccine is very safe, they also acknowledge that it has the potential to prevent up to 90 percent of cervical cancer cases, if provided early enough. It is important that all families have the knowledge and the access to this life-saving prevention tool.
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The HPV vaccination today is cancer prevention for the future, and this bill sends a strong message that we value the health and safety of young people in South Carolina. Now is the time to put aside politics and put the people of South Carolina first. Preventing cancer in South Carolina’s children is common sense and should be a bipartisan priority, not an issue stalled by political fights that don’t help our citizens.
Rep. Beth Bernstein
Sen. Brad Hutto