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  • Parental Rights and Civil Wrongs: School-based Clinics and Abortion

    A Seattle area mother is distraught because a school-based clinic at her daughter’s high school arranged for the girl to have an abortion, even providing a taxicab to the clinic, without notice to her parents. A spokesman for the King County Health Department summarized the situation simply when he commented, “At any age in the state of Washington, an individual can consent to a termination of pregnancy.”

    Washington is one of a handful of states that do not have a parental notice or consent law, according to Americans United for Life. In fact, the group’s rankings of the 50 states on the extent to which they provide for such policies as informed consent, parental notice, and conscience protection ranks Washington at a very low 42nd nationally. In states where parental notice/consent laws exist, they typically also require judicial bypasses for minors who can demonstrate, independent of their parents, that they are “mature” or that the abortion would be in their “best interest.”

    As a result, it’s possible that the school-based clinic might have been able to arrange a clandestine abortion for the girl even if Washington had a consent or notice law. In the larger picture, school-based clinics have been controversial for some time. While they provide many helpful medical services, offering basic physicals and mental health services to low-income students, they also bring birth control devices and, on occasion it seems, abortion referrals into the schoolhouse.

    Parents are asked to sign consent forms for their children to use the clinics, but these are not always itemized and consent on specific matters like abortion is determined by state law not particular clinic policies. Moreover, teenagers who attend the clinics and are Medicaid-eligible are covered by a provision of federal law that says the teen must consent before information about their accessing contraceptives can be shared with the parent or guardian. Liberals in Congress blocked Bush Administration attempts to reduce fraud and strengthen parental prerogatives by barring the use of Medicaid funds for school-based services, including the cost of medical referrals.

    Interestingly, the mammoth health care reform bill just signed into law by President Obama includes authorization for a major expansion of federal financing of school-based clinics. The National Assembly of School-Based Health Centers hailed the bill’s signing because of the $50 million it provides over five years for a new federal grant program and the “emergency appropriation” of $200 million it makes for the clinics over the next two years.

    Unlike community health centers in the bill, which were not covered by a specific abortion limitation, the health reform bill bars funds from going to any school-based clinic that “performs abortions” and funds may not be used to “provide abortions.” It also specifies that the clinic shall not provide services to an individual without the consent of a parent or guardian if the individual is “considered a minor under applicable state law.”

    Which is well and good, except that the “applicable state law” in the area of abortion and birth control services may not exist, may authorize judicial bypass, or even mandate confidentiality for minors when the service is contraceptives. As for abortion referrals and taxicabs to the abortion clinic, whether funding them or entities that offer them is permitted will turn on whether the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regards these acts as part of what it means to “provide abortions.” Until proved otherwise, a parent would be prudent to assume that the Obama administration’s HHS will conclude that the referral and the taxicab are just fine with Washington.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    24 Responses to Parental Rights and Civil Wrongs: School-based Clinics and Abortion

    1. Missourimule says:

      This case SHOULD wake a lot of people up, but the pro-abortion lobby (and in some quarters, the sentiment) is so strong that it defies any definition of good sense. Go to school – learn abortion. What could be more . . . 21st century?

    2. Jeff says:

      Actually for 2010, Washington is 50th on the AUL Index.

    3. EricPotter, Nashvill says:

      Dear Heritage Foundation,

      Thank you for highlighting this horrendous trend in our nation. I pray that readers will awaken to the changes in our nation and come to their senses. This is just the beginning if parents don't start defending their children by defending their parental rights.

      For more information, go to http://www.parentalrightstn.blogspot.com especially if you want to do something about this intrusion by the government into our families. http://www.parentalrights.org is another source of information.


      Eric Potter MD

      Tennessee Director for Parental Rights.Org

    4. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      Shame on the doctor who performed this procedure, if a school takes a kid to the ER for setting a broken bone or suturing a cut, parental consent must be gotten, I have been witness to such consents over the phone, when an MD gets a phone consent a nurse must be on an extension and sign as witness , I tthink this is unconsciousable. If it was my daughter the clinic would be facing a law suit as well as the school.

    5. Barbara, Louisiana says:

      And yet, a child just must have a parent s consent before getting her ears pierced?….or am I wrong? This is insanity.

    6. Leslie Daniel says:

      This is an outrage. I have to have to have a doctors note in order for my child to receive medication, prescription or otherwise at school and you mean to tell me a school clinic in Washington can refer a child and transport a child to have an abortion!!! The parents should be horrified especially when the school claims they gave their consent with some random health form.

    7. Ruth OK says:

      Dr. Lynn Kerr, an associate clinical professor from the University of California at San Francisco, explains the deadly side-effects of the birth control pill.

      5 leading causes of death for women are side effects of bc: http://vimeo.com/5007720

    8. Jose A Goenaga, New Mexico says:

      No School has the right to permit any abortion to a minor o a child, they should notify the parents.
      Schools are for education not to prostitution the children.
      They (schools) are probably hiding rapes,alcoholism, drugs every time they permit an abortion.

    9. Jeff, DC says:

      The way WA law is written (they have their own Freedom of Choice Act) minors can get an abortion without parental permission or notification.

    10. Sam, WI says:

      I think it's ridiculous that the teenager has to show that they are "mature" or that the abortion is in their "best interest". If they really were mature they wouldn't have gotten knocked up in the first place. As for it being in their "best interest", unless the reason is a medical one in which case the teenager wouldn't have to prove if it was, what would have really been in their best interest was making the choice that put them in that situation in the first place.

    11. RightThinkingMom says:

      Are you people just now waking up to the kind of control and indoctrination the public (government) schools are exercising over your children every day? This has been going on for a very long time. I was in high school in L.A. during the late 70's and was 'referred' to the local Planned Parenthood clinic to, ahem, take care of a reproductive problem. My parents were never notified and wouldn't have known if I didn't tell. Problem is, that kind of decision has ramifications years later when a woman is mature enough emotionally to understand what it means to conceive and give birth to a baby. By then, the baby, I mean problem, is long gone but the memory of what has been done to it lives on forever. My children are homeschooled because we want to have true parental rights–something just not possible when they are in the government system. The education they receive is also massively better, by the way.

    12. Bryan, Vancouver, BC says:

      While the standing legalities of the Washington State privacy and choice acts may raise concerns about a school’s involvement in providing the means for a minor to obtain an abortion without their parents’ consent or knowledge, I would be willing to venture that Washington’s ranking in providing for “such policies as informed consent, parental notice, and conscience protection ranks Washington at a very low 42nd nationally” translates to a much healthier promise being made to the state’s young women.

      Whether you think that school’s are entrusted with their students’ care to the extent that they should involve parents in such a process (as I do), first world health care systems have long been aware that legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence rate: to be sure, the abortion rate is lowest in countries where access to the procedure is free, legal and discrete as deemed necessary by the patient (see the World Health Organization’s October 2009 study: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html, or its summarized points in this New York Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/news/12iht-12abortion.7863868.html). In countries where abortions are illegal, or difficult to obtain, five million women are hospitalized, and 70,000 women die each year due to abortion related complications. And to restate: the lowest rate of abortions occurs in nations where access is legal and unfettered.

      Which is a slightly different precedent, but has bearing on the anonymity attached to the abortions discussed in the article above, as having to involve one’s parent in the process no doubt gives cause for a minor to seek alternative channels in obtaining the procedure. If legality can predicate anything in the scenario, it is that the teen would likely find a way to get an abortion whether they had to involve their parents or not; but the way that doesn’t involve their parents might not be as safe, if this law is stricken unilaterally.

      It is not an easy dispute to settle, I realize: where to draw the line between a teenager or minor who is “mature” or not? and how that individual might receive the emotional and psychological support needed without the involvement of parents? are two questions that spring to mind immediately.

      But I truly don’t believe that there are really two sides to the abortion debate, at its heart: pro-life and pro-choice factions each – again, I suspect – wish that there were no such decisions to be made, that no mother, young or otherwise, should have to deal with the horrors that accompany the scenarios which must end in abortion, or the termination of pregnancy. But studies show that legality, and the barricading of these services does nothing to affect the rate or number of abortions.

      The only shift that becomes apparent when abortions become illegal, or difficult to obtain – whether through cost, parents, or other hurdles – is that they become much more dangerous.

      Where the schools fit into this equation is the grey area, I think, in terms of its role in the community. If the school is dedicated to serve in harmony with community efforts to provide for the students’ health and well being, there should be legal language about what types of disclosures – to counsellors, administrators, or teachers – must categorically be shared with parents (as exist for doctor’s dealing with children under the age of 16 in matter of providing contraception information or services: the Fraser Guidelines). Perhaps abortion, as with violence, depression or other concerns arising in the natural course of an educator’s work with youth, would fall under this jurisdiction. But if we can trust doctors to deem whether or not a “young person’s best interests require them to receive contraceptive advice or treatment with or without parental consent,” could we not also entrust our public school teachers to do the same?

      It would be interesting to see a contrast between the number of abortion-related complications where confidential abortions are granted to minors, and elsewhere, where they are not.

      Any conversation of the embroiled debate that abortion has become must include a discussion of these realities. Everyone’s goal, pro choice or life, is the well-being of our fellow (wo)man, and when faced with these hard decisions, we must be willing to admit that certain policies, though they may be well intended, create much more damage and suffering than their alternatives.

      In the end the choice is yours, whether you educate your children explicitly – and privately – to your own familial values or creeds. But our public institutions, be they medical, educational, or social, are charged with providing the best opportunity for health, happiness, and success of each citizen, and while your values may not agree on this particular point, the science and expertise on the issue is decided, and favours a system that has been proven time and again to surmount moral impulses to its contrary.

    13. KC, Arizona says:

      Amazing, and the Science class that I substituted for today had permission forms

      to go home with the students that parents had to sign for their children to take Human Growth and Developement (Sex Ed) classes!

    14. Tim AZ says:

      The best way to influence schools like this is to remove your child and home school them. As attendance drops so does the funding for the school. Unless of course your child is not worth the effort. I have another note of interest. The department of education has been approved to begin arming themselves. Their weapon of choice is the Remington 12 gauge riot shotgun. We now know that education also comes from the barrel of a gun. Another jewel from chairman Mao and the current administration.

    15. Drew Page, IL says:

      I would have never believed that such a thing could happen in this country. I girl under the legal age of consent is pregnant. First of all, I would think this is a case of statutory rape, which should be proscecuted. Second, once aware of the girl’s pregnancy, her parent(s) should have been notified along with the police, if in fact this was a case of statutory rape.

      To advise this child to have an abortion and to provide her with transportation to an abortion clinic is a monsterous violation of parental rights. How in God’s name did something like this become legal in the State of Washington? Many state won’t allow schools to dispense an aspirin tablet to a child without parental consent.

      Who knows what emotional trauma this child may face in future years as a result of the advice and support she received from her school? When questions like “Why did I do this? Why didn’t I talk to my mother first? Why did the school advise me, as a kid, that I could get away with this without my parents knowing?” occur to this girl later in life, who will provide the answers?

      I hope the adults in the State of Washington who were unaware of this possibility will act quickly to change the law. I also hope the parent(s) of this girl press criminal charges against those at the school who offered this advice and support. If criminal prosecution is not possible, I hope they sue the school and the individuals involved in civil court.

    16. Kin Borja, Honolulu, Hawaii says:


      As stewards of our treasure–our children and family, it is truly a shame that the goverment legislate how we can be eliminated from our rights to provide care and guidance to our children. There are some that say that if our minors committ an offense, then the parents are responsible. But if the government endorses such atrocities as performing abortions to minors without parental knowledge or consent, then they should be equally held accountable.

      We have to pray but our voices must be heard at the POLLS! There, we as God-loving citizens can and should make our choices known. It is not business as usual.

      Pray for Jesus’ Victory!


    17. James Donohoe Gunter says:

      Abortion is allowed without parental notification but parents are held responsible for everything else concerning the health and welfare of their child. Who says the laws of man have to make good sense?

    18. James Donohoe, Gunte says:

      Abortion is allowed without notification but parents are held resposible for everything else concerning the health and welfare of their children. Who said the laws of man need to make sense?

    19. Dan Kennedy, Seattle says:

      It's sadly ironic how many "pro-choice" parents do not know that they are supporting these attacks on their own parental rights. Every year we introduce a parental notification bill in the legislature, and every year the abortion lobby puppets in the legislature make sure it gets buried in committee. Unless pro-choice parents stop helping to elect these people, they will not have their rights restored.

    20. Pingback: Not an April Fool’s Joke: “School-Homing” Education Ideas | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    21. Sarah, Washington St says:

      This is all well and good until MY kid gets sick from an after-surgery infection, hemorrhages and requires emergency treatment, or dies. Then I will find the place that treated her and sue them out of business.

      Surgery, even abortion (it is SURGERY) has risks. Would they call me if my kid died on the table or had a reaction that left her damaged in some way that required post-op observation? Where does this wonderful law end?

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