HB 693 goes to committee today.

Hey Y’All,

This is a big week for Reproductive Health in our state. With crossover a little over a week away, the extremests in the General Assembly decided to move another anti-abortion bill to committee.

Today, the House Committee on Health and Human Services is considering HB 693, a bill that would require that teens under 18 require obtain written consent from a parent or guardian before seeking health care services for the “prevention, diagnosis, or treatment” of: STIs/STDs; substance abuse; mental health counsel; and pregnancy. This means that teenagers will need to get the written consent of a parent before even talking with their doctor about how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. Later today, the House will likely vote on HB716. In spite of strong opposition to that bill, the extreme anti-woman majority, led by Rep. Ruth Samuelson, has been working overtime to make sure it passes.

HB 716 has gotten a lot of press over the past couple of weeks, but you may not know much about HB 693. While HB 716 is couched in a purported concern for gender discrimination, HB 693 makes no claims to be about anything other than what it is: a bill designed to prevent teenagers from having independent access to health care.

HB 693 prevents teens from seeking services for not merely “treatment,” but diagnosis and prevention. Written parental consent is already required for teenagers seeking abortion care in our state (that legislation was enacted in 1995). This bill amends that older law to require teens have parental consent not only for abortion care services, but for seeking out information about how to prevent STIs and STDs, as well as information about substance abuse, emotional disturbance, and pregnancy. In order to have access to information about any of these potential health issues, a teenager must provide written consent from a parent or guardian.

We can all agree that in the best possible scenario, teenagers would want to involve their parents in their health care treatment. But the reality is, many teenagers do not feel comfortable talking to their parents about the kind of issues that this bill names. Even in the best parent-child relationships, it’s hard for families to communicate about sex. In families where relationships between parents and teenagers are affected by difficult issues like abuse or mental illness, communication about sex may be impossible. But the difficulty of these conversations will not prevent teenagers from engaging in sexual activity or substance abuse. This bill would merely make it less likely for teens to seek information about how to prevent pregnancy and STI/STD transmission.

In a recent poll, APPCNC (The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina) found that 77% of parents agreed with the statement: “I want my teen to abstain from sex, but I also think he or she needs information on birth control.” North Carolina parents agree that teenagers deserve the right to information about their health. They deserve the right to make informed decisions. Public Health professionals agree, that’s why the American Public Health Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American Medical Women’s Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Psychological Association all oppose parental involvement laws like HB 693.

The U.S. continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world. Among American teenagers, rates of Gonorrea and Chlamydia are much higher than in other western countries. The Guttmacher Institute has done a lot of research on parental involvement laws, and has found that 

Proponents of laws and policies designed to require parents to be involved in their adolescent’s decisions to seek reproductive health care argue that in addition to restoring “parental rights,” such requirements will further parent-child communication while dissuading minors from engaging in sexual activity; however, research spanning almost three decades fails to confirm these claims. There is no research that supports the notion that mandatory parental involvement requirements for either contraceptive services or abortion improve parent-child communication or facilitate conversations about sex, birth control or related matters. To the contrary, the research suggests that these policies are potentially harmful to teenagers’ health and well-being, and highlights the importance of confidentiality to teenagers’ willingness to seek care.

HB 693 would seriously damage the health of the teenagers living in our state. Parental involvement bills will not prevent teens from engaging in sexual activity or substance abuse.

We know that when teenagers have access to information about their health care, they make better choices. Why should North Carolina teens have fewer rights than teens in other states?

We hope you agree that this bill should never make it to the House floor for a vote. And if so, we hope you’ll tell the Governor. 

Sign Our Petition!

Last week we released our report on the dangers of crisis pregnancy centers in North Carolina.

This week we want your support in calling for state regulation of these CPCs to prevent further misinformation from negatively affecting the lives of North Carolinians.

Add your name to a growing list of North Carolinians who agree that all people in our state deserve medically accurate and unbiased information!

Sign the petition here!

Anti-Choice House Draft-Bill

Last week the Labor, Education, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee released a draft of the fiscal year 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act.  Ranking subcommittee member Representative Rosa Delauro of Connecticut issued a statement analyzing what she sees as a grave violation of fiscal responsibility.

In it, she singles out Subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) as acting on his own opinions and those of other similarly minded representatives.  According to Rep. Delauro this draft has yet to be discussed in the subcommittee.

In summary this bill would:

    • Prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood through programs such as Medicaid which provides low-income women with preventive health care, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, and STI testing and treatment;
    • Eliminate funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other family planning services to five million low-income women each year, and through which women can avoid unintended pregnancies;
    • Ban insurance coverage of abortion in the new health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act — taking away a common insurance benefit most women currently have;
    • Prevent the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (the health care reform law passed last year by Congress), and eliminate the new benefits that include insurance coverage of women’s preventive services like mammograms, cancer screenings, and birth control with no additional co-pays;
    • Cut the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative by $64.79 million — from $ 104.79 million to $40 million — stipulating that $20 million of that money must be used for grants to provide ineffective, abstinence-only education;
    • And put in place a sweeping new refusal provision that undermines patients’ access to quality health care, effectively imposing a religious ideology test on access to essential care.

All this in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”  The United States continues to have one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy of the industrialized world, as well as the maternal mortality rate of the industrialized world and one of the highest rates of infant mortality.  Lack of access to both sex education and contraception will, without any doubt, lead to an increase in unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.  This bill also cuts funding to the Center of Disease Control and restricts education reform and labor relations, making not only pregnancy and childbirth difficult to pay for, but the rest of a child’s life.

It is great to know that legislators like Rosa DeLauro have the same opinion.  Hopefully her words will stand out to other subcommittee members and the bill in its current form will not the bill that is passed.  Rep. Delauro’s final statements:

“In conclusion, the Rehberg plan fails to adequately address our nation’s needs in the midst of economic crisis, while bogging down the process with politically driven legislative riders. I cannot support this measure in its current form and am eager to engage with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress to find solutions that will make the best use of federal resources in pursuit of job creation and economic growth, as well as in support of the neediest Americans.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Happy World Contraception Day!

By Claire, Communications Intern

In 2007 a coalition of international scientific and medical organizations started this campaign to make every pregnancy wanted.  Sponsored by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, these organizations are attempting to raise awareness on the international level about the necessity of family planning and the benefit it brings to women and their families all over the world.  This coalition includes:

  • Asian Pacific Council on Contraception (APCOC)
  • Centro Latinamericano Salud y Mujer (CELSAM)
  • European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC)
  • German Foundation for World Population (DSW)
  • International Federation of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (FIGIJ)
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  • Marie Stopes International (MSI)
  • The Population Council
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Women Deliver

Unfortunately we live in a world where there are still significant barriers for anyone who is seeking to control the size of their family and to delay pregnancy.  America is facing an unprecedented attack on women’s reproductive rights with a direct emphasis on restricting access to birth control options from many of the women and families in this country.  In regions of the world already in dire need of general health services, the barriers for women are even higher and the need to space pregnancy even greater.  We still have a long way to go before every pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy.

World Contraception Day this year focuses “on the need to encourage young people to exercise their right to search for accurate, unbiased information about contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection (STI).”   It is especially important that young people, as the future generation, be as educated as possible about their reproductive health.  They have a power for immense change throughout the world; a change to respect and support contraceptive use is what we need right now.  Young people can put us in the right direction.  Comprehensive, medically-accurate information about birth control options can be found here and here.