WASHINGTON (September 21, 1998)--The Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) urged Congress to support the Parental Rights Amendment on Family Planning included in the Fiscal Year 1999 Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill.
"Please vote against any attempt to strike this sensible provision," asked Gail Quinn. She wrote to Congress concerning the appropriations bill, H.R. 4274, on September 18.
The amendment requires that a parent be notified before a minor child is given a contraceptive drug or device in a Title X family planning clinic. "Most parents would be shocked to learn that their teenage daughter may walk into one of these federally funded clinics and obtain free contraceptives, including potentially harmful implants or injectables like Norplant and Depo-Provera, without their knowledge or consent," Ms. Quinn said.
"These and other contraceptives may have dangerous side effects for young women, with which parents--not clinic workers--are left to deal," she continued. She said that prescription contraceptives do not shield against sexually transmitted diseases; instead they leave minors with a false sense of security to practice risky behavior. Some contraceptives act at times as abortifacients by preventing the embryo from implanting in the womb.
"Government agencies or counselors should not usurp the rights and responsibilities of loving parents, particularly in sensitive matters of sexuality and the transmission of human life," said the NCCB official.
Ms. Quinn also urged support for an amendment to require that Title X clinics be physically and financially separate from abortion facilities, as intended by Title X's legislative mandate and 1988 "program integrity" regulations. From 1970 on, the Title X statute has declared that abortion is not a method of family planning; taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize organizations that violate this principle, Ms. Quinn said.
The NCCB official also asked Congress to oppose any amendment that would require all private health plans to provide prescription contraceptive drugs and devices. The Catholic Conference opposed a similar mandate in the Treasury/Appropriations bill, which applied only to federal employees.
Expanding the mandate to private health plans "raises new concerns regarding respect for the religious beliefs and moral convictions of health plans, private employers and their employees," Ms. Quinn wrote. "Now that the FDA has specifically approved a new 'emergency contraception' regimen, the abortion implications of such a mandate are clearer than when the Treasure/Postal bill was considered," she continued. "Such a mandate poses a serious threat to conscience rights and to early human life."