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Santorum, Scott on SC governor's HPV record

The specter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s attempted HPV vaccine mandate looms particularly large in South Carolina, where the state’s current governor, Nikki Haley, co-sponsored a similar bill as a state representative in 2007. 

According to a CNN story earlier this week, Haley later voted against the bill after fierce opposition arose. She did not, however, request to be removed as a sponsor of the bill.

According to a statement on Haley’s website, she voted against the bill when “it became clear to me that an opt-out provision was not going to be included in the bill and it sought to mandate that middle-school girls obtain a vaccine – and strip parents of the right to make the choice for their daughter." 

Two opt-out amendments were in fact later added to the bill, but Haley voted to table both of them according to legislative records.

When asked about Haley’s position on the bill yesterday, South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott declined to comment but said he opposed the concept of a vaccine mandate.

“I think the very most important thing to do on that question is ask Nikki Haley. Because I’m not going to be a spokesperson for Nikki Haley,” Scott said. “I can tell you however that giving parents the options to take care of their family and their children is the most important decision the government can make, which is to stay out of the way.”

A spokesman for Haley told NBC that the governor's statement speaks for itself. 

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, campaigning in South Carolina yesterday, said he believed that Haley had good intentions when she first supported the bill.

“I think what Nikki would tell you, and I’m sure she will tell you herself, a lot of people looked at that initially, you see this is an anti-cancer drug and this is a very could be a very helpful thing to eliminate that.”

Santorum said he took issue, however, with the idea of “taking parents’ rights away for having their children be vaccinated for something without really full consent and knowledge.”