San Fernando Marchers Demand Hearing on Clinic

Times Staff Writer

About 1,000 people marched through San Fernando on Monday night to protest a proposal to establish a high school medical clinic that, among other services, would dispense contraceptives.

The march--the third mass demonstration against the campus health clinic--began at Santa Rosa Catholic Church, snaked through quiet neighborhoods of the city of almost 20,000 and ended in front of San Fernando High School.

Many of the marchers carried signs and chanted calls for the Los Angeles school board to hold a public meeting where the clinic proposal would be debated.

"We want to hear both sides of the story," Gerardo Ascencio, a march leader and member of Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima, told the crowd. "What are they trying to hide? We want a meeting."

School board members have remained firm in their support of the clinic, but have not decided whether to hold a hearing in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Only students with written parental consent would be allowed to use the clinic, according to Maria Reza, coordinator of the district's health-clinic project.

San Fernando, Jordan High in Watts and Los Angeles High in the mid-Wilshire area have been designated by the Los Angeles Unified School District as sites for the pilot health-clinic programs.

When they open, the clinics are to offer a wide range of services including general physical examinations, treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, and counseling connected with weight control and mental health.

The clinics also will offer birth-control counseling, contraceptives, pregnancy testing, prenatal care and screening for sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

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