Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ACLU: Kids Have a Constitutional Right to Contraception

According to Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, the state's Healthy Montana Kids program is failing to provide children with something they need: contraceptives.
The local Great Falls Tribune reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is helping Planned Parenthood sue the state, with hearings set for next May. The two groups allege that the state's Children's Health Insurance Program, a part of Healthy Montana Kids, violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution and denies girls their “right to privacy” by failing to subsidize free contraception for low-income children.

State Representative Chuck Hunter, a Democrat from Helena, said that Montana could save money by preventing teen pregnancy through a contraceptive mandate. But Republican State Senator Keith Bales told EWTN News on Nov. 1 that he considered more than the state budget, in his decision to oppose contraceptive funding provisions during the 2009 legislative session.

Senator Bales recounted that Planned Parenthood had been historically “very active in giving contraceptives to teenagers, without the knowledge or consent of their parents.” Even those who accept contraception, he said, should acknowledge that such initiatives circumvent responsible parenting.

“I strongly feel that that is something the parents need to discuss with their children, and come to some kind of decision or conclusion about,” Senator Bales said, acknowledging that some parents are likely to “be fine” with their dependent children becoming sexually active and using birth control.

But, he said, regardless of parents' opinions, it is essential to maintain their role – rather than encouraging children to make these types of decisions on their own.

“The issue is, when you have the government going on ahead and just (providing contraceptives), not involving the parents, then it totally cuts the parents out of that equation. I think it's important in this day and age that parents do interact with their children, and are more involved.”

The state senator went on to reject the notion, advanced by the ACLU, that the lack of subsidized contraceptives would endanger a “right to privacy” purportedly found in the state's constitution. Even if that right is broadly assumed, Bales said, it cannot be considered to apply to independent adults and dependent children in the same manner. The distinction, he said, is fundamental to the law.

“There is a dramatic difference between the right of privacy when you are talking about adults, as compared to when you are talking about underage juveniles,” he observed. “They're trying to apply the right of privacy for adults, to young people who are (living) with their parents.”

Senator Bales drew a comparison between juvenile offenders who may commit crimes equivalent to those of an adult, but who are not tried in adult courts. “There is a reason that we don't try young teenagers in adult court,” he said, “because we do not feel that they have reached the point of accountability.”

Similarly, he said, a young person who can engage in sexual activity is not, on that account, an “adult.” Thus, the same principle that considers the youth of juvenile criminals as a mitigating factor, must be applied to preserve parents' involvement in the matter of birth control.

“They are not adults,” the senator said. “They should not be treated as adults.”

No comments:

Post a Comment