HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Proposed Bill Will Require Parental Notification Before Giving Contraception to Minors

Rep. Tod Akin (R.- Miss.) has introduced legislation - the Parents Right to Know Act - in the House that would require federally funded health clinics to notify the parents of any minors seeking contraception at least five days before dispensing the contraception.  The law would not require parental consent.   

According to CNS News. com, Coburn argues that "this bill does nothing but put parents back in charge of their adolescent daughters. . . . In almost every area of our children's lives strict parental notification standards and laws are in place."  He says "this bill will encourage parents to get a second medical opinion and make them more aware of what is happening to their kids."  Akin has said that it is "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." 

Opponents of these bills say requiring parental notification could discourage young women from seeking reproductive health care and put them at risk for unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.    Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America says that "Senator Coburn ["Dr. Tom" Coburn, R-Okla.], Senator Santorum and the other anti-birth control zealots behind this bill are determined to impose their values on others, even if it means more unintended pregnancies and an increased need for abortions.  They know their opinions are unpopular with Americans, so they are trying to endanger the health of young people to score points with the radical right."  This legislation would affect about 4,400 health clinics that provide reproductive health services to about five million low income and uninsured women.   

For further analysis see National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association's article.  Thanks to Lindley Bain for her help with this post. [tm]

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