Thursday, October 18, 2007

Self-Esteen and School Health Services

Yesterday, a Maine school board decided to allow a Portland middle school to open confidential health clinic within the school. The clinic will provide basic health services (like immunizations) as well as sexual health counseling and birth control. Kids will not need their parents' permission to obtain birth control, though they will need their parents' permission to be treated at the health center in the first place.

Amazingly, all but two members of the 12 member board voted to approve the center.

And while the sane were represented at the hearing, so were the (wing)nuts:

“It has been shown, over and over again, that this does not increase sexual activity,” said Pat Patterson, the medical director of School-Based Health Centers.

Reaction was mixed.

“This is really a violation of parents’ rights,” Peter Doyle, a Portland resident, told the committee. “If there were a constitutional challenge, you guys would be at risk of a lawsuit.”

Pat Patterson is right, and I'm so glad to see her or him shooting down the right wing argument (advanced by foes of BC and EC) that the availability of birth control makes kids crazy sex animals. Regarding Peter Doyle's argument, it's not so clear whether he's right or wrong. Parents definitely have a constitutionally protected interest to raise and educate their kids in the way they want to (within limits). But as kids grow up they too develop their own competing privacy rights. Some states already allow minors to access birth control without parental permission. If middle school kids can be sentenced to life in prison, there's nothing incongruous about giving them (all teens) the tools to lead healthy lives.

Just for fun, let's stipulate (against the evidence) that access to birth control will cause some young girls to have self-esteem reducing sex in middle school. What's more likely to cause problems and limit opportunities later in life--slightly reduced self esteem at age 14, or a baby at age 14?

1 comment:

Larry said...

Isn't it strange that a wide majority of the board voted to approve this, but the right wing pundits and snoops have made it their business to deny.