Teen’s virginity pledge plays role in denial of citizenship
Simone Davis is 17 years old and was born in Britain. The teen currently lives in Florida and recently was denied citizenship based on her refusal to receive Gardasil, a vaccination which protects against a sexually transmitted virus linked to cervical cancer.
Simone came to the U.S. when her grandmother married an American approximately 10 years ago. Her grandmother adopted Simone and has complete parental rights and responsibility to raise her. However, the U.S. does not recognize the type of guardianship granted to her grandmother in Britain, so they have been seeking U.S. citizenship for Simone for the past 9 years.
U.S. law requires immigrants seeking citizenship to receive a number of vaccinations including Gardasil which protects against human papillomavirus (HPV). Specifically, all women and girls between the ages of 11 and 26 who are applying for citizenship, permanent residency or refugee status must receive the vaccine. However, U.S. citizens are not required to receive the Gardasil vaccine.
Simone is not sexually active. Her strong Christian beliefs and faith do not condone pre-marital sex. Therefore, she believes that she is not at risk of getting an STD and also believes that there are adverse health effects to the vaccine. For these reaons, she rejected the vaccine and requested a waiver for moral and religious reasons. Simone also feels that since citizens are not required to receive the vaccine that the government could be using immigrants to test the drug.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service recently rejected Simone’s request for a waiver. She can now try to appeal the waiver, but she has a limited amount of time and it will cost money. Simone also faces the possibility of being removed from the country. She will not be able to attend Pensacola Christian College in Florida where she was conditionally accepted unless she is a U.S. citizen.
Do you believe that immigrants trying to become citizens should be required to receive vaccinations like Gardasil even though U.S. citizens are not required to do so? Do you think there is a difference between required vaccinations for STDs which are not airborne and vaccinations for airborne diseases? Should Simone’s religious views and virginity pledge be considered a reasonable cause for receiving a waiver to the required vaccine? On a related note, should laws allow minors to refuse medical treatment?