Children and sex: Parents have a right to know
July 12, 2005
At present, federally financed health clinics, like Planned Parenthood, do not have to notify parents if their children try to obtain contraceptives at the clinics. As parents, it is our obligation to bring up our children in the way of the Lord but how can we do that when the laws throw up so many road blocks against parental rights? If a parent doesn’t have a clue as to what their child is doing sexually, how can they possibly raise them in the Lord’s way? The political left in America have consistently opposed commonsense laws that protect the rights of parents to supervise the behavior of their minor children. Parents deserve to know if their children are being prescribed contraceptives or their daughters are having abortions. Parents have all the responsibility for their minor children, yet the courts have decided to deprive them of their corresponding authority over them. How much longer will Congress allow the courts to restrict parental rights over minor children?
Opinion polls reflect the public’s recognition of the fact that parents are held responsible for the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of their children. When their minor children suffer the consequences of their actions like teen pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, or in some cases even premature death, it is the parents who have to pay for counseling, psychiatrists, medical bills or burial expenses.
It is for this reason that legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Tom Colburn, R-Okla., and in the House by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. Called the Parents Right to Know Act, health clinics would have to tell parents five days before contraceptives are dispensed to minors at any of the 4,400 federal Title X clinics across the nation. Akin called it “inconceivable” that children could walk into a federally funded family planning clinic and be administered a potentially life threatening birth control medication without their parents’ knowledge. “Yet, frequently,” he said, “when children walk into the local mall to get their ears pierced, parental permission is required.”
Minor females especially need their parents’ and legal protections in making these most important personal decisions of their lives. “I have seen first hand the painful consequences associated with our federal policy that allows children to make potentially life-changing reproduction decisions without their parent’s knowledge,” said Senator Colburn, an obstetrician. “This government-sanctioned veil of secrecy is contributing to a growing sexually transmitted disease epidemic and encourages unintended teen pregnancies and abortions. Few government policies are more irrational or hostile to the vital relationship between a parent and child.”
It is common knowledge that minors, except in emergency situations, must have parental permission to receive medical attention. Even a public school nurse may not dispense an aspirin to a minor child without parental permission. Yet, minors can have abortions without parents knowing. School based medical clinics, public health agencies and Planned Parenthood can dispense powerful and dangerous contraceptives, some of which are abortifacients, to minor girls without their parents knowledge.
Laws differ in different states. California’s Minor Consent Law, allows students as young as 14 to receive birth control patches, oral and intravenous birth control, the morning after pill and condoms, all without the notification of their parents. Twenty-one states allow all minors to consent to contraceptive services. Ten states allow minors to consent if they are high school graduates or have received a referral from a physician or member of the clergy. Six states allow minors to consent if they are parents or have been previously pregnant. However, in New Hampshire and California parental permission is required for a minor to use tanning machines, and children under 14 are banned from using them at all. New York minors cannot get a nose ring or a tattoo without the parents’ O.K. Yet in these same states minor children can get abortions and all kinds of contraceptives without parental knowledge.
The Parents Right to Know Act recognizes that minor girls deserve their parents’ support and protection, especially when facing the constant and overwhelming pressures to be sexually active that they receive from entertainment sources, peer pressure and required public school sexuality courses. Parents have the right to protect their minor daughters from the careless neglect of clinics that may take advantage of young women, some of whom may be victims of sexual predators.
Wendy Wright, CWA’s senior policy director gives the following case. In January 2004, the parents of 16-year-old Melissa Anspach recognized the desperate need for the parents Right to Know Act. They found their daughter sprawled in pain on her bedroom floor in the middle of the night after the Philadelphia Health Care Center No. 10, a clinic that receives Title X funding, administered the morning after pill to her without their knowledge. Melissa suffered severe stomach pains, vomiting, a rash and a swollen face.
The clinic had failed to inquire about Melissa’s medical history or conduct an exam. The clinic also neglected to communicate to Melissa that the morning after pill not only would prevent a pregnancy, but could also result in an abortion if she had already conceived. The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health and those who treated Melissa, now facing a lawsuit filed by Melissa’s parents, are excusing their responsibility for Melissa’s negligent treatment due to the provisions under Title X!
“If Melissa Anspach’s parents had been notified of the clinic’s intent to dispense the morning after pill to their daughter, they would have had the chance to protect her from her traumatic experience,” said Wright. “Melissa was denied the invaluable support, wisdom and protection from those who care for her the most, her parents.” (Joey Davis is the state director of Concerned Women for America in Missouri and is a member of First Baptist Church, Branson.)