News Articles

House panel requires Title X clinics to notify parents about contraceptives

WASHINGTON (BP)–A congressional committee has approved legislation requiring federally funded clinics to notify parents before providing contraceptives to their underage daughters.
The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 32-24 in favor of an amendment that would mandate parental notification by Title X clinics before dispensing contraceptive drugs or devices to minors. The amendment was to the 1999 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. Title X of the Public Health Services Act provides federal funds at clinics for contraceptives, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and counseling on sexuality issues.
The committee approved the funding bill the same day, July 14, in a 32-23 vote. The full House is expected to vote on the legislation before it recesses for about a month in early August.
An amendment to the same bill that would have required Title X clinics to be separate from abortion clinics failed when it ended in a 26-26 vote.
The successful amendment, authored by Rep. Ernest Istook, R.-Okla., also would require Title X clinics to abide by state laws mandating the notification of authorities when there are reports of such crimes as child abuse, sexual molestation, statutory rape and incest.
“This program encourages teens to have sex without expecting consequences,” Istook said in a written statement. “Essentially, our government is subsidizing teenage promiscuity. This measure takes a major step toward fixing that.
“Schools can’t give aspirin to a minor without a parents’ OK, but Uncle Sam gives them birth control pills and even controversial drugs without letting the parents know.”
The case of a 14-year-old Illinois girl instigated the amendment effort. A high school teacher who was having a sexual relationship with the girl repeatedly took her to a Title X clinic for injections of the drug Depo Provera. Though the hormone has side effects, her parents were never notified.
About 1.5 million teenagers receive Title X services each year, Istook’s office reported.
“We’re very supportive of this amendment,” said Will Dodson, public policy director for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “We are very hopeful that it will be accepted by the full House and then the Senate.”
A similar attempt to require parental notification at Title X clinics failed last year when a substitute amendment gutting it was approved.