Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday angrily defended his relationship with Merck & Co. and his executive order requiring that schoolgirls receive the drugmaker‘s vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus.Perry, touring cancer centers around the state, said the contributions were just a small share of the $24 million he raised and had no effect on his decision.

Pressed on when he decided to issue the Feb. 2 executive order requiring the vaccination for sixth-grade girls, Perry snapped: “I wish you all would quit splitting hairs, frankly, and get focused on ‘Are we going to be working together to find the cure for cancers?‘ No, I can‘t tell you when.”

The executive order has inflamed conservatives, who said it contradicts Texas‘ abstinence-only sexual education policies and intrudes into families‘ lives.

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