Tags: Parent's | Right | Know | Act | 2003

Parent's Right to Know Act of 2003

Friday, 20 June 2003 12:00 AM

My wife and I were parents first, friends second to our children when they were growing up. But in today's society, it is very clear that all too many parents are trying to be friends first and parents second – if at all – to their children.

Many of today's parents need to start setting definite boundaries for their children, teaching them good, honest, traditional values. And these parents need to start making clear to their children that they expect them to adhere to those values and to live within those limits.

Parents need to realize that their children are not little adults, contrary to how young ones are often presented by the entertainment industry's products, and that they not only need but even desire guidance from their elders.

Another influential underminer of parental authority has been the federal government. However, I am pleased to report about an important effort just getting under way in Congress to reinstate parental authority where it has been sadly lacking for over three decades.

The federal government's Title X program to distribute contraceptive drugs and devices was established by the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970.

Regulations written by a former Planned Parenthood official serving in what was then the Department of Health, Education & Welfare turned the concept of parental authority upside down by granting minors and adults the same level of confidentiality involving their acceptance and usage of contraceptive drugs and devices.

Title X clinics are expressly prohibited from notifying parents that their children are receiving contraceptive drugs and devices, even though those drugs and devices can have serious, even life-threatening, side effects.

In short, the government knows better than the parents. Is it any wonder that in today's society too many children are growing up with improper supervision from parents?

There were unsuccessful efforts to repeal the measure during the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, the most serious effort came in the mid-1990s when Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., led drives to require parental notification for minors wishing to obtain contraceptive drugs and devices from Title X clinics.

Opponents used procedural moves to deny him an up-or-down vote on the measure until 1998, when the House approved parental notification by a vote of 224 to 200. Unfortunately, the underlying bill never reached President Clinton's desk.

So, even today, Title X clinics today are thriving enterprises, numbering well over 4,500 in the United States and its protectorates, pushing contraceptive drugs and devices on under-age girls without their parents' knowledge. One-third of Title X recipients are teens, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last week, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., introduced the Parent's Right to Know Act of 2003, virtually a carbon copy of Istook's measure, and he has been able to reach across the aisle, recruiting Rep. Ken Lucas, D-Ky., as co-author, and a number of House conservatives have already signed on as co-sponsors.

The Parent's Right to Know Act would require written notification to be given to parents by a Title X clinic at least five business days before contraceptive drugs and devices are provided to their child.

Some purists may want parental consent legislation. However, the thinking by legislative experts who are social conservatives holds that requiring notification reinserts parents back into the process of guiding their children when it comes to their personal lives. It also essentially accomplishes the same purpose as a parental consent bill, which would be more difficult to pass.

As Akin says, a minor wishing to obtain even something as insignificant as an aspirin needs to obtain parental consent before it can be given by a school's nurse. Even field trips require arents' okay. But parental permission or even notification is not needed when it involves contraceptive drugs and devices from a Title X clinic.

"What is at issue here is the primacy of a parent's right to be informed and to have a decision-making role regarding their children's health," Akin has said. "To not inform parents that such a critical decision is being made is unfair to them and negligent regarding children's health."

One Illinois case that came to light six years ago illustrates the need for the Parent's Right to Know Act.

An Illinois girl, only 13 years old, had been molested repeatedly by her junior high school teacher over an 18-month period. He visited a Title X clinic with his student-victim regularly to have her injected with Depo Provera, an injectable contraceptive that lasts for three months. Naturally, the young girl's parents were completely in the dark as to what was happening.

Akin points out that the federal government, as is often the case, is presenting messages that are completely at cross-purposes with each other. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is waging an expensive public relations campaign urging parents to talk to their children about the serious consequences of drug abuse. At the same time, the Title X clinics treat parents as if they should be completely uninvolved in their children's personal lives.

Today's parents came of age during the time the Title X regulations were established. That was bad enough, but they were also raised during an era in which the authority of key institutions of this country came under assault by the forces of a liberalism that borders on nihilism.

It was not just the presidency or big business that were cast into disdain, but also the institution of the traditional family – in other words, parents who lived their lives by traditional values and expected their children to do the same.

While the idea of parental authority was being derided, the idea of "just do it" when it came to sex – by teenagers or anyone else – was promoted in the products of the entertainment industry and by government regulations, both powerful shapers of attitudes in this country.

The result is that parents too often simply do not understand what it truly means to be a parent.

The Parent's Right to Know Act is an important, achievable reform that can send a much-needed message to our young people and parents that mother and father are expected to know best.

There is a pro-life majority in the House. That suggests the outlook at least in the House is hopeful for this bill. Getting a presidential signature on the bill would make absolutely clear that it's time the federal government stop treating adult parents as children and children as if they are adults.

What cannot be turned back so easily is the cumulative impact of four decades' worth of messages and actions in which the idea of parental authority has been so distorted that too many parents equate providing discipline to their children with the notion that they are not loving them.

They are sadly mistaken and they are doing their children a real disservice.

The only solace that we social conservatives have is that what can be done by legislation and regulation can certainly be undone. Even so, it just might take a few more decades to get things completely back to where they really should be.

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My wife and I were parents first, friends second to our children when they were growing up. But in today's society, it is very clear that all too many parents are trying to be friends first and parents second - if at all - to their children. Many of today's parents need...
Friday, 20 June 2003 12:00 AM
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