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Feminist News


June-28-96

Students Denied Confidentiality and Abortion Counseling, Access to Birth Control Information

Students in Prince William County, Maryland will be denied accessibility to abortion counseling on school property next fall, and if students discuss topics like pregnancy or drug abuse with school employees, their parents will be notified. This unanimous decision was made Wednesday evening (6-26) by the Prince William School Board. The members justified their decision to take away students right to confidentiality with the rationale that the parents had the right to know about their children's lives.

A number of officials expressed concern about the decision including the county's Health District Director and the Head of the Department of Social Services who believe that this decision may harm the health of the students because the students may be reluctant to seek help on critical issues. Social Services Director Ricardo Perez conveyed concern that the students will seek other, less reliable sources of information on abortion. Susan Lamontagne, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood's national office believes the measure will be an obstacle for students "...who are in trouble...it could increase the number of teenage pregnancies and the number of sexually transmitted diseases."

In an unrelated decision in Virginia, Fairfax County School Board members voted 11-1 Thursday (6-27) against a proposal to have classroom displays about birth control methods to which students are normally exposed through outdated documentaries. In May, an advisory committee overwhelmingly approved the displays, to be done only by a visiting public health nurse who could answer questions about birth control, but the committee reversed itself two weeks later amid questions about the proposal. School Board members said in Thursdays decision that parents should be in charge of teaching their children about birth control methods. Also at Thursdays meeting, the board approved a restructuring of health and biology classes for 9th and 10th graders and a series of health and sex education videos.

Media Resources: : The Washington Post - June 27, 1996; The Washington Post - June 28, 1996