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PA Considers Anti-Abortion Counseling Directive

The North Penn School District may establish a supposedly “hands-off” policy toward teen pregnancy that would curtail the ability of students to obtain information on abortion options. The District is drafting a directive that would require counselors and teachers, when discussing pregnancy with a student, to focus solely on continuing students’ education. While the policy does not contain the word “abortion,” the policy is clearly intended to comply with Pennsylvania’s parental consent law, which requires women under the age of 18 to obtain the consent of one parent before getting an abortion. North Penn Board Members say their decision was catalyzed by last year’s Hatboro-Horsham School District Case, where the school settled out of court with parents who said a high school counselor helped their 16-year-old daughter obtain an abortion in New Jersey. Abortion rights activists oppose the policy, noting that it places barriers on young women’s rights to learn their options and to obtain necessary medical care. Studies have found that 85 percent of teens would not seek care for reproductive needs if required to have parental consent. In 1988, for exampel, Becky Bell was the first woman to die as a result of parental consent laws, when she sought an illegal abortion and died from a massive infection that could have been prevented.

Sources:

Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report and Philadelphia Inquirer _ September 21, 2000 and Feminist Majority Foundation, ñChoices: Study and Action Manualî - 1998

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