New York Moms Call HPV-Vaccination Law Unconstitutional

UTICA, N.Y. (CN) – A new New York law that lets doctors administer the HPV vaccine to children without their parents’ consent has triggered a federal complaint from five suburban moms.

“Plaintiffs here are not intrinsically opposed to the HPV vaccine, and their children are otherwise completely vaccinated,” the March 3 complaint states. “But, they are concerned that their children may receive the vaccine without their awareness and involvement. They are concerned that if their children experience an adverse reaction to the vaccination, they may not associate the reaction with the vaccination and may not have sufficient knowledge to properly seek treatment for their children.”

New York public health law has since 1972 established the rights of minors to receive confidential sexual and reproductive health care services. The original statute says health care providers need not get consent from the parents or guardians of minor patients to treat or prescribe to them if they have either been infected with or exposed to a sexually transmitted disease.

Spread of the human papillomarvirus – a proven cause of certain cancers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes is the most common sexually transmitted infection – inspired lawmakers to expand the scope of that law last year to cover the HPV vaccinations Gardasil and Gardasil-9.

Made by Merck, the vaccines are approved for use in women and men ages 9-26 and protect against four and nine strains of HPV, respectively. Administered to more than 46 million people since 2012, the CDC notes that clinical trials show Gardasil is 100 percent effective in preventing the strains that cause cervical cancer and 99 percent effective in preventing the strains that cause genital warts.

The New York Department of Health’s No Consent or Knowledge Rule went into effect in May 2016, inspiring Friday’s lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

Lina Cole and the mothers behind the complaint are all mothers of children between the ages of 11 and 16.

The 19-page complaint highlights a number of the vaccine’s side effects, including fever, nausea, and in rare cases death and seizure-like activity. Because all of their children have experienced reactions to prior vaccinations, the moms say that their children lack the “mental maturity to articulate, properly recall or associate any reaction they may suffer as a result of a vaccination.”

One of the plaintiffs, Lisa Boyle Meyer of Manhasset, says the HPV vaccine caused her 16-year-old daughter to suffer from ongoing paralysis in her legs that requires the use of a wheelchair.

Cole, Meyer and the other moms brought their complaint against New York Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker. A representative of that agency declined to comment on the case, but noted it has not yet been served with the complaint.

The parents are seeking an injunction against the No Consent or Knowledge Rule and a determination that the law is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. They say they have a constitutional right to be present and have a decisionmaking role when medical procedures are being performed on their children.

Aaron Siri of the Manhattan firm Siri & Glimstad filed the complaint for the moms in Utica. Siri did not respond to an email requesting comment.