Halton Catholic HPV Policy a Blow to Parental Consent
BY Teresa Pierre
(TORONTO, November 7, 2013) - Parents As First Educators (PAFE) and many parents with children in Halton Catholic District School Board are outraged that board trustees voted 6-2 to overturn the ban on the HPV vaccine to Grade 8 girls at Halton Catholic schools on Nov. 5th. “The Board chose to listen to the spin from vaccine advocates over the wishes of a packed boardroom of parents,” said PAFE President, Teresa Pierre, PhD.
“Trustee Morrison wondered aloud why he hadn’t been contacted by Trustees in other boards where parents have expressed concerns over vaccine side effects. This completely misses the point,” said Pierre. “Halton Trustees had been contacted by hundreds of parents, many of whom took the time to be in the boardroom that evening. Their input is what they should be considering, not what other elected officials have to say.”
Pierre added that the legal opinion obtained from the firm Keel Cotrelle spelling out the limits of parental consent over minor children’s health care shows that minor children have the final say. The report says: “It is likely that most Grade 8 students eligible to participate in the HPV Vaccination Program would be found to have the capacity pursuant to the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 to independently consent to receiving or not receiving the HPV Vaccination.”\“Parents have no way now to ensure that their consent is respected, even if consent forms are used,” said Pierre.
The benefit of the HPV vaccine ban was that when parents had to take their children to get the vaccine parents were empowered to act in their rightful role as custodian and now that role has been usurped by public health.
For the most part board parents don’t appear to be interested in the vaccine. Said Pierre,
“This is the really aggravating thing about this. The low rates of HPV vaccination in the Halton board demonstrate that it isn’t a huge concern for parents. The fact that the vaccine was made an issue in the Halton board this fall was entirely the work of an external group, HPV Canada. One could detect no sympathy for the HPV Canada delegation among parents present at the meeting and no parent spoke in favor of vaccination that night. How much evidence do we need that the wool was pulled over the eyes of these Trustees on November 5th?”
“Parents do trust their kids to abide by Catholic teaching on chastity before marriage and that is really the message we wanted Trustees to endorse in their policy,” said Pierre. Parents think that “teaching abstinence and self-control is the best way to prevent the physical, spiritual, and psychological damage early sexual encounters may cause. We regret the board has chosen a policy that undermines the value of chastity.”
Burlington resident and Catholic missionary Stephen Norman said Catholic schools must not let the medical side of the debate overshadow the pressing responsibility of Trustees to teach children to practice abstinence, “If the physical needs of our children become more important than their spiritual needs, it seems to me the Catholic school board has forgotten some of its Catholic responsibilities.”
PAFE supporters do not believe in HPV Canada’s case for the medical need for vaccination when most cases of HPV resolve themselves spontaneously and most cancer cases can be prevented by regular PAP screening. In addition, parents fear their children may inadvertently end up suffering long term side effects from the vaccination, such as strokes, muscle pain and Guillian Barré Syndrome. The lead developer of the vaccine, Dr. Diane Parker, has herself said these risks may outweigh the benefits of the vaccine.
Pierre says she has been contacted by Tad Brudzinski, a parent in Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School board, who says the consent form they received for the HPV vaccination this fall was addressed to students and parents. “Parents are right to be concerned by the law’s failure to protect them as custodians of their children. Trustees in the Halton Board dropped the ball and let down their committed supporters. When Trustee elections come around in the not-too-distant future parents will remember the two Trustees who stood by them: Anthony Danko and Jane Michael.”
View the Nov. 5 board agenda, delegation speeches, and legal report on consent to the HPV vaccine here
Watch the board video of the meeting here
Related - Halton Catholic schools to offer HPV shots, BY Meredith MacLeod Hamilton Spectator, Nov 05, 2013
- Catholic board overturns ban on HPV vaccine, BY Tim Whitnell Burlington Post, Nov. 07, 2013 * A MUST READ