Expands availability of condoms to minors for STD prevention (HPV vaccination coverage removed from the bill)

State: CA
Bill Number: SB 541
Position: WATCH
Action Required: None at this time
Status: VETOED by Governor Gavin Newsom on 10/8/2023; session adjourned 9/14/2023

Legislation Details:

UPDATE: 10/8/2023 - SB 541 was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom on 10/8/2023. The governor's veto statement is here

UPDATE: 9/15/2023 - SB 541 was enrolled and sent to the Governor on 9/15/2023. The governor has 30 days from 9/14/2023, session adjournment, to sign or veto bills.

UPDATE: 9/11/2023 - The amended SB 541 was passed by the Senate on 9/11/2023 by a vote of 30 Ayes, 9 Noes. It was ordered to engrossing and enrolling.   

UPDATE: 9/7/2023 - SB 541 was passed by the full Assembly and ordered to the Senate to consider Assembly amendments.

UPDATE: 9/5/2023 - SB 541 was ordered to third reading in the Assembly.

UPDATE: 9/1/2023 - SB 541 was amended and passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 9/1/2023 by a vote of 11 Ayes and 4 Noes. The amendment makes many changes including deleting most sections of the bill that refer to  human papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV vaccines. The remaining active sections of the bill are now confined to sexual health and contraceptive availability, namely condoms.  SB 541 as amended is now outside of our scope and therefore no longer a bill in which NVIC takes a position.  We have changed our position from OPPOSE to WATCH and will continue to leave the bill in a WATCH status to make sure we don't miss any amendments to bring the language we opposed back. This requires a title change from "Expands the Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (PACT) program to include HPV vaccine coverage for minors" to "Expands availability of condoms to minors for STD prevention (HPV vaccination coverage removed from the bill)."    

UPDATE: 8/30/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for a suspense hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday, 9/1/2023 upon adjournment of Session in 1021 O Street, Room 1100. View the Hearing Agenda HERE.

Suspense File bills are considered at a hearing after the state budget has been prepared and the committee has a better sense of available revenue. No testimony is presented – author or witness – at the Suspense File hearing.

Ways to Take Action and OPPOSE SB 541:

1) Provide written comments by emailing the committee: [email protected] 

2) Contact the Assembly Appropriations Committee Members individually, ask them to OPPOSE: Position letters delivered to the committee are not forwarded to the individual members of the committee. 

Assembly Appropriations Committee Members:

Chair: Assemblymember Chris Holden | (916) 319-2041 

Vice Chair: Assemblymember Megan Dahle | (916) 319-2001 

Assemblymember Isaac Bryan | (916) 319-2055 

Assemblymember Lisa Calderon | (916) 319-2056 

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo | (916) 319-2052 

Assemblymember Diane Dixon | (916) 319-2072 

Assemblymember Mike Fong | (916) 319-2049 

Assemblymember Gregg Hart | (916) 319-2037 

Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal | (916) 319-2069 

Assemblymember Devon Mathis | (916) 319-2033 

Assemblymember Diane Papan | (916) 319-2021 

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin | (916) 319-2028 

Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria | (916) 319-2027 

Assemblymember Kate Sanchez | (916) 319-2071 

Assemblymember Akilah Weber | (916) 319-2079 

Assemblymember Lori Wilson | (916) 319-2011 

Emails (copy and paste these addresses into your “To” field):

[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected];  

3) Contact your Assemblymember, ask them to OPPOSE: Find your Assemblymember HERE

UPDATE: 8/23/2023 - SB 541 was placed on the Assembly Appropriations Committee suspense file on 8/23/2023. The Committee can take a bill out of the suspense file to vote on its passage at any time. Continue to contact Assembly Appropriations Committee Members and your Assembly Member, ask them to OPPOSE SB 541. 

UPDATE: 8/21/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, 8/23/2023 at 9:00 AM at 1021 O Street, Room 1100. View the Hearing Agenda HERE

UPDATE: 7/12/2023 - SB 541 was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on 7/11/2023. 

UPDATE: 7/12/2023 - SB 541 passed the Assembly Committee on Health on 7/11/2023 by a vote of 12 Ayes, 3 Noes. 

UPDATE: 7/3/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Health on 7/11/2023 at 1:30 PM at 1021 O Street, Room 1100. The agenda can be found HERE

UPDATE: 6/30/2023 - SB 541 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Health on 6/30/2023. 

UPDATE: 6/28/2023 - SB 541 was amended in the Assembly Committee on Education and passed on 6/28/2023, by a vote of 5 Ayes, 1 No. The amendment contained some minor formatting changes, and did not change the substance of the bill.

UPDATE: 6/21/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Education Wednesday, 6/28/2023 at 1:30 PM in the State Capitol in Room 126. View the Hearing Agenda HERE. To participate via the web portal and watch the hearing from its live stream view the Hearing Agenda. Contact the Assembly Committee on Education Members & your Assembly member, ask them to OPPOSE SB 541.

Submit Written Testimony HERE to communicate your views to the bill author’s staff as well as the committee that will be hearing the bill. FAQ

All Witness Testimony will be in person; there will be no phone testimony option for this hearing. Any member of the public attending a hearing is encouraged to wear a mask at all times while in the building and to monitor the Assembly Committee on Education page for updates.

UPDATE: 6/15/2023 - SB 541 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Education and Assembly Committee on Health on 6/15/2023.

UPDATE: 5/31/2023 - SB 541 passed the 3rd reading in the full Senate by a vote of 31 Ayes, 9 Noes on 5/31/2023. 

UPDATE: 5/22/2023 - SB 541 as amended was ordered for a third reading in the Senate on 5/22/2023 so it is eligible for a vote in the Senate.

UPDATE: 5/18/2023 - SB 541 was amended and passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/18/2023, by a vote of 5 Ayes, 2 Noes. The amended version spells out that coverage for the HPV vaccine is for persons between 12 and 18 years of age. Earlier versions of the bill said it was indicted for persons 18 years of age or younger. 

UPDATE: 5/12/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, 5/18/2023 at the adjournment of the Session at 1021 O St, Room 2200. Agenda not yet available. 

UPDATE: 4/24/2023 - SB 541 was placed on the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file on 4/24/2023. 

UPDATE: 4/18/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on 4/24/2023 at 10:00 AM, 1201 O Street Room 2200.

UPDATE: 4/12/2023 - SB 541 passed the Senate Health Committee by a vote of 10 Ayes, 1 Noes on 4/12/2023. It was then referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on 4/12/2023. 

UPDATE: 4/1/2023 - SB 541 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Health Committee on 4/12/2023 at 1:30 PM, 1201 O Street Room 1200.  Agenda - https://shea.senate.ca.gov/agenda 

UPDATE: 3/29/2023 - SB 541 passed the Senate Education Committee as amended and was referred to the Senate Health Committee.  The amendments do not change the section NVIC is concerned with. 

UPDATE: 3/8/2023 - SB 541 was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, 3/29/2023 at 9:00 am, 1021 O Street, Room 2100.

SB 541 was referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee on 2/22/2023. This bill is sponsored by Senator Menjivar. It could be heard as early as March 17th. Information and deadlines for submitting written testimony in the form of position letters are posted on the committee websites linked above.

This bill states in part, it is the intent of the Legislature to improve public health outcomes and reduce STI rates among California youth by making condoms more accessible for young people and ensuring there is no wrong door for HPV vaccine access.

This bill, among other things, expands the PACT Program to include:

(H) Coverage for immunization against human papillomavirus (HPV), as clinically indicated, to persons who are 18 years of age or younger. This subparagraph shall not be construed as prohibiting the department from providing that coverage to persons who are over 18 years of age through the Family PACT Program.

The Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (Family PACT) Program provides comprehensive clinical family planning services to any person who has a family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

NVIC does not usually take a position on funding bills. However, NVIC is OPPOSING SB 541 because the California Legislature is also considering adding a mandate for HPV vaccine for 8th grade students with the introduction AB 659. There would be no religious or personal exemption for this mandate. Also, minors 12 years old and older can consent to HPV vaccines without parental knowledge or consent because of the passage of AB 499 in 2011. NVIC is opposed to minors receiving vaccines, including HPV vaccines, without parental consent. The state should not be spending money on a vaccine that is the subject of multiple lawsuits.  

In most cases (9 out of 10), HPV goes away on its own within two years without health problems. Most HPV infections don’t cause cancer. Your immune system usually controls HPV infections so they don’t cause cancer. Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. There is no way to know who will develop cancer or other health problems from HPV. 

For some people, the risk of the vaccine is 100% and for the vast majority of people who resolve HPV infections on their own, the vaccine provides no benefit. Many parents trying to decide whether or not to get the HPV vaccine for their children may not remember that this vaccine was fast tracked through the approval process.

Our main reason for covering this bill is extra funding in this area combined with minor consent already in law and a potential mandate could create a very hostile, coercive, and punitive environment for teens who want to remain in school but whose parents don't want them to get the HPV vaccine.

There are multiple Merck lawsuits regarding the HPV vaccine Gardasil that are active and moving forward at this time.

In the almost two decades since the FDA approved Gardasil, patients have reported that they are experiencing serious and life-threatening side effects and fatalities from using Gardasil. As of 4/21/2023, the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) contains 73,478 reports of HPV vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths and, includes 623 related deaths, 7,408 hospitalizations, and 3,535 disabling conditions. Over 55 percent of the reported serious adverse events occurred in children and teens 6-17 years of age.

Though VAERS, viewing the data through MedAlerts, you can see that Gardasil is linked to the following adverse events:

●  Syncope (Fainting),

●  Dizziness,

●  Nausea, and

●  Hypersensitivity reactions.

And Serious adverse events, include:

●  Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS),

●  Transverse myelitis,

●  Motor neuron disease,

●  Venous thromboembolic events (VTEs),

●  Pancreatitis,

●  Autoimmune disorders, and

●  Death

In spite of all this, Merck has been engaging in direct-to-consumer advertising for the HPV vaccine. In 2006, Merck began heavily marketing a misleading campaign that its Gardasil vaccine was a safe and effective way to prevent HPV infections.

Merck is facing various claims, including from patients who claim that the company engaged in deceptive research trials which misrepresented Gardasil’s safety and efficacy. Parents who feel pressured into vaccinating their children, as well as adults who experience serious side effects after taking Gardasil, are seeking compensation from Merck.

Claims against Merck for HPV vaccines argue that Merck failed to disclose information related to the safety and efficacy of Gardasil. These victims argue the company engaged in fear-mongering and false advertising to increase HPV vaccine sales and that Merck used these disease-mongering tactics and provided incentives to legislatures in an attempt to make Gardasil mandatory for school children. Complaints allege that Merck systematically misrepresented the efficacy of Gardasil in preventing cervical cancer.

Merck is also facing allegations that the Gardasil vaccine contain hazardous ingredients. Gardasil is claimed to contain an aluminum adjuvant, borax, Polysorbate 80, and genetically modified yeast. Some argue that the clinical trials focused on preventing cervical lesions instead of cancer itself. Moreover, contrary to the company’s representations, Gardasil may increase the risk of cervical and other cancers.

This has ushered in more recent lawsuits based on the claim that Merck fraudulently concealed evidence about the health risks of the vaccine while at the same time misrepresented that Gardasil could prevent cervical cancer. https://www.lanierlawfirm.com/gardasil-vaccine-lawsuit/

According to a release on the IPS News Agency, Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine injury lawyers from Wisner Baum recently filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of a young Utah woman who alleges Merck’s Gardasil HPV vaccine caused her to develop cervical cancer and other injuries. This is the first lawsuit to allege Gardasil can cause cervical cancer, the very cancer Merck asserts their HPV vaccine prevents.

The complaint (Case No. 3:23-cv-00161) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina as part of the Gardasil multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 3036). Dozens of federal Gardasil injury cases filed throughout the country have been consolidated in North Carolina.

According to the complaint, Merck has never studied whether Gardasil prevents cervical cancer. Instead, Gardasil was tested to determine if it could prevent development of certain lesions, some of which are considered related to cancer, however, a majority of such lesions, even the most serious, regress on their own.  Not every HPV infection places one at risk for cervical cancer.  Only persistent HPV infections (not short-term or transient infections) in a limited number of cases may cause the development of precancerous lesions.

Public health officials have long recommended the Pap test as the most effective frontline public health response to preventing cervical cancer. Long before Gardasil was introduced to the market in 2006, cervical cancer rates had been plummeting by up to 80% with implementation of routine Pap testing. For those who are diagnosed with precancerous lesions or worse, cervical cancer is largely treatable if caught early.

The Gardasil vaccine label specifically states, “Gardasil has not been evaluated for potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity.” Studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest the suppression of the HPV strains targeted by Gardasil (there are over 200 HPV strains and Gardasil targets between four and nine strains) may actually open an ecological niche for replacement by more virulent strains, thus increasing the risk of cervical cancer.

Because of all this and much more, the state should not be spending any taxpayer money on funding or promoting the HPV vaccine to minors. 

NVIC suggests asking for the bill to be amended to remove the HPV vaccine funding component, but if this does not happen, the bill should be opposed. NVIC does not take a position on STI preventive measures other than vaccines. 

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB541- text, status and history for SB 541