In the coming weeks, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a provision that could change the way family planning services are delivered to teenagers nationwide. If passed, the bill would require youths under the age of 18 who seek services at Title X--federally funded--clinics to obtain parental consent before they receive any services, including contraception and medical checkups. TRACY JOHNSON spoke with teens about the proposed law.
17, Westchester High School; a teen health educator with the South Central Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program
Teens have a right to confidentiality. We should be able to get these services without asking our parents. If teens are old enough to go to a clinic and seek help then they are old enough to do it without their parents' consent. If teens end up having to ask their parents for permission, there will be more sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. Privacy is important to teens. Some teens are afraid to approach their parents about subjects like sex. Teens might not get protection and the health care that they need if they have to talk to their parents because of this. A fairer thing would be to only require parental consent on major services--like needing surgery--not on getting pills or condoms.
18, teen health counselor at Westside Women's Health Center
Most parents don't communicate with their kids. Parents aren't talking about how the teen feels and they're not hearing the teen's concerns. It should be the job of the parents to teach kids about sex, but lots of them don't, so the responsibility has been put on organizations and schools. A bill like this is really kind of dumb. All it will do is stop teens from getting the information and care they need to protect themselves. It's a shame that something like this is even being considered because STDs and HIV are already prevalent. It's like Congress is ignoring the fact that we are not a perfect society.
17, North Hollywood High School, teen operator for the Teen Reproductive Help Line
The number of teens who go to teen clinics would decrease if teen services aren't confidential. It will only make it harder for teens to get the medical care and information they need. As a Christian, I'm not sexually active, but that's what I choose to do. It's other teens' choice to do what they do and I don't put my views on people. I just try to help them sort out what they need and ask them how they feel about the decisions they make.
16, Inglewood High School; volunteer at St. Margaret's Center in Hawthorne
It's a good idea because let's say something bad happens to the girl or guy when they visit the clinic or get services. If they keep it a secret, parents won't know what's happening and won't be able to help them. I'm really close to my parents and I tell them everything that's going on with me. If it was me and I had to ask for permission to get services and my parents told me no, I wouldn't do it. You shouldn't go against your parents. I don't think teens should have sex and run the risk of getting pregnant. I know people who are getting pregnant and dropping out of school and not going to college.
13, Lawndale High School; volunteer at St. Margaret's Center
If the law passes, it might stop people from having sex at such young ages because they'll be scared to ask their parents to sign something. But it's hard for some kids to talk about sex to their parents because their parents won't agree with them and will ground them or won't let them go out. I'm Catholic and in my religion, you're supposed to stay a virgin until you get married. Some religions don't say that and some people don't follow religions so it depends on what you believe in. I think it's ideal for people wait until you get married, but some people have a hard time with that and I think that they should be able to protect themselves.