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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Can your guidance counselor help you when you need an abortion?

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Author Topic: Can your guidance counselor help you when you need an abortion?
alaska
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The School Board of Pennsylvania’s North Penn School district approved a policy this week which prohibits teachers and guidance counsellors from helping students who want to obtain an abortion. The decision came after parents sued the School board of another Pennsylvanian district after a counselor supposedly helped a student obtain an out of state abortion to avoid Pennsylvania’s Parental Notification law.

Some members of the board making the decision were aware of the fact that this new policy wouldn’t prevent one teenage pregnancy but still voted for the policy simply to protect the school district from legal claims by parents.
It can hence be expected that similar policies might be proposed in school districts in other states that have parental notification laws.

What’s your stand on this? Do you think this ruling can harm the relationship students have with their guidance counselor/teachers or wouldn’t you go (or have gone) to a teacher with your pregnancy fears anyway?

While I personally am not quite sure what my stand on parental notification and getting around it is (because IMO, in an ideal world, parents and their kids openly talk about sex and the consequences anyway and would deal with problems together, too, so parental notification laws shouldn’t be necessary), I think it’s a shame that a school district literally bans an important issue from student/counselor conversation.

The definition of what constitutes “help a student obtain an abortion” can be very far –providing leaflets about abortion, discussing options and telling where to go to get info on an abortion could most certainly fall under that. Add to that the fact that many teens don’t get very good sex ed in schools (because the US government prefers abstinence only sex ed) and that quite a few teens only have internet access at school and can hence not reach sites with sex ed (because the compulsory Scanning software blocks sites like our Scarleteen, too).

– Hey is someone leaving teens alone with their reproductive concerns here?

Plus this will IMO definitely harm the relationship between counselors and students – now you have to monitor what you say for legal reasons.

So what do you think?

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Posts: 4526 | From: germany | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ThisGuy
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I see it as another triumph of litigation and greed over common sense.

If my child made a decision, it is their fault, and probably mine as well. Providing the information which they should already have is nothing.

On a side note, I noticed in the paper that a woman won $US2.3 million because of a birth mixup - it was bargained down from $31 million! A case is still pending against the manufacturer of the bracelet the infant was wearing, which fell off, leading to the error.

The amount in that suit is $US24 million. Frightening.

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Gumdrop Girl
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while i am pro-choice, i think is was *VERY* wrong of the school to assist the girl in obtaining an abortion out of state. i think it was not their place to intervene in this matter, especially since the state has a parental notification law in effect. moreover, the parents still have custody of the minor girl, and by assisting her in seeking a termination for her pregnancy, the school may have been imposing their pro-choice stance on what could have been a pro-life family.

granted, i think it is important for a counselor to be able to discuss personal problems with the students, including unplanned pregnancies. And yes, the couselor should be able to help weigh out the student's options when it comes to dealing with unplanned pregnancies. But (assuming that "help a student obtain an abortion" mean that appointments were made, and legal loopholes were slipped) it is not the place of the counselor to arrange for the termination, drive them to the planned parenthood office, etc.

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Grizabella
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quote:
Originally posted by Gumdrop Girl:
moreover, the parents still have custody of the minor girl, and by assisting her in seeking a termination for her pregnancy, the school may have been imposing their pro-choice stance on what could have been a pro- life family.

But shouldn't the girl be able to choose what happens to her body? She's the one who's going to be forced to go through a (potentially dangerous) pregnancy if her family won't allow an abortion.

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alaska
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Grizabella, thing is, even in states with parental notification laws, it is possible to get an abortion without parental consent.

Planned Parenthood explains:

quote:
The Supreme Court has ruled, however, that there must be another option to parental notification or consent for a minor. It is called "judicial bypass." In judicial bypass, a judge can either rule that the young woman is mature enough to make this decision without her parents or that she is not mature enough to make this decision without informing them.

Juidicial Bypass has it's downfalls though, it takes time (which you don't have enough when you're a few weeks pregnant and a decision needs to happen quickly) and most definitely does not improve the relationship between parents and daughter (have a look at this story from Sex etc.).

I wonder what exactly happened in the case where the parents sued the school district, i.e. what kind of information the counselor provided; hm, let's see whether I can find some more info on that.

I partly agree with Gumdrop here though, a counselor making the appointment for an abortion for a pregnant girl would be going a little far, while I think weighing the options with her and providing her with the information she should have anyway (i.e. how, where etc.) simply HAS to be possible.

[This message has been edited by Alaska (edited 04-21-2001).]


Posts: 4526 | From: germany | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
alaska
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Well, you gotta love google, but there seems to be very little unbiased or halfway reliable information on that case out there.

The case has apparently been settled, and the only thing to know for sure is that no one knows any facts for sure (apart from the girl and the counselor though).

Most Pro-Life sources (who love that case, apparently, and say that it just shows what horrible things happen in schools these days - "sex ed, free condoms and forced abortions") simply quote from the news release by the conservative law firm (with the misleading name "The American Center for Law and Justice") that filed suit on behalf of the parents.

Allegedly (that's what the parents claimed in their law suit), the school counselor:

*gave the then 16 year old girl a leaflet from an abortion clinic that he had requested from the clinic and that was sent to the school, drew a map on how to get there (in terms of the suit:"[...]was deeply involved in directing the teenager to schedule an abortion at a New Jersey abortion clinic to evade Pennsylvania law that requires a minor to obtain parental consent before such a procedure ");

*cashed cheques from the girls ex-partner (who lived out of state) through a school account (in terms of the suit:"helped arrange the financing for the abortion");

*did not inform the parents with whom he was in touch because the girl had just changed to that school ("deliberately concealed from her parents that their daughter was in a crisis"); and

*promised to provide false excuses to cover for the student's absence from school while the abortion was being performed.

In addition, the suit claims that the Counselor coerced the girl into an abortion, told her that that was the only way out and that he "offered such advice as "welcome to the adult world," "time heals everything" and "someday you'll look back on this and laugh"".

Well, well, this all looks mainly like propaganda to me. However, I'll be on the lookout for some more decent info though.

In anyway, it does not look like the counselor went to extreme measures such as driving the girl to the clinic, making the appointment or paying for it.

In general, just as I said at the beginning, I think a counselor should be able to provide information on all options, including abortion, and should strongly suggest to the girl to talk to her parents. If however, that isn't possible, I think he should provide info on how to contact an advisor who can help with judicial bypass, and if that fails, as undesirable as it is, help her get an out of state abortion, whichis, after all, not illegal.

[This message has been edited by Alaska (edited 04-21-2001).]


Posts: 4526 | From: germany | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
exit seraphim
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wow, North Penn?

This is shocking but not surprising. I visit this school almost annually and compete regularly with their marching band. I know people who go to the North Penn HS. It's a HUGE school. It's about the size of a small college. This is going to affect sooo many people who go there. It's in a rural/religious area that's starting to build up commericially. Talking to students who go there, the families tend to have 5 and up children. I doubt sexual education/birth control is taught, and it most likely goes against the majority of people's beliefs.

This policy certainly won't stop kids from having sex. It's sad that the school district cares more about its finances then helping its students.

if you want, i could get the opinions on this topic from kids who go to the school.

-justine

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have i been wrong?
have i been wise?
to shut my eyes and play along?


Posts: 142 | From: H*Ton, NY | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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The trouble is that while it does sound like this counselor may have crossed a line here, it is REALLY hard to make that call.

because every student is different, every situation is different. For all we know, this counselor may have thought this students health or life would be in jeapordy if her parents found out she was pregnant, or may have had some toher information from the girl we don't know about.

Ultimately, the trouble is that the counselor was put in this position in the first place. If the girl's parents were really pareneting well, she could have gone to them.

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Heather Corinna
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"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


Posts: 67076 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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