No, Says the judge. That would be illegal.
A federal judge in New York City has blocked—at least temporarily—a federal regulation requiring parents to be notified when minors receive prescription contraceptives. The rule would have applied to all family planning clinics receiving any federal financing. It was set to take effect late last month.
Judge Henry F. Werker said the regulation is invalid because it subverts the intention of Congress to combat teenage pregnancy, and that notification of parents when minors receive contraceptives would work against that intention. The temporary injunction applies to some 5,000 family clinics around the country. The Justice Department will appeal the action.
In 1970, Congress added a section known as Title 10 to the Public Health Service Act. The provision provided federal money for public and private family-planning agencies. Congress amended the law in 1978 to require that services be given to adolescents, because it said teen-age pregnancies were a critical problem.
The rule would have required that parents be notified within 10 days when prescription contraceptives were given to teen-agers under 18 and under parental care. There were exceptions in cases of suspected child abuse or incest.
During congressional hearings on the regulation, George Ryan, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called it a smokescreen for “turning back the clock on sexual attitudes.” He said, “The idea that we’re all going to have a Robert Young, ‘Father Knows Best’ kind of family is just not reality.”
Richard Schweiker, then secretary of Health and Human Services, argued however that “in every other area of their lives, parents are involved and held responsible.… It is paradoxical ...1
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