School-Based Clinics

“Throughout the United States there is growing concern over the promotion of teen health centers and/or school-based clinics (SBCs). These concerns include: promotion of abortion, jeopardizing the quality of education, duplicity of services, cost of programs, liability of providers, ineffectiveness of services, lack of parental involvement, conflicts of values and racial discrimination.”

All the above objections raise legitimate questions. Right to Life of Michigan opposes teen health centers and/or school-based clinics because evidence shows that such programs open the door to family planning services which promote abortion as a solution to teenage pregnancy.

1. Real Purpose of School-Based Clinics

In the wake of strong public opposition to the controversial family planning/abortion focus of SBCs, promoters have attempted to diffuse criticism by camouflaging the clinics as “comprehensive health care centers.”

The fact remains that the SBC movement was pioneered by, and continues to be spearheaded by, recognized pro-abortion groups including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Population Options. Even where on-site dispensing of contraceptives and abortion counseling have been prohibited by school boards or state laws, referral schemes that funnel students to nearby Planned Parenthood or other family planning clinics have been used to effectively allow the clinics to fulfill their primary aim.

2. Abortion Line Documented

While SBC advocates carefully discuss the birth control aspect of their programs in terms of “contraception,” it is important to note that “family planning” always includes “the full range of options,” of course, including abortion. And abortion counseling and referrals are a documented part of SBCs already operating in Michigan. The executive director of Muskegon Planned Parenthood openly acknowledged in an article in the Muskegon Chronicle (July 4, 1986) that of five students who had become pregnant in the 1985-86 school year while enrolled at an SBC operated by her organization in the Muskegon Heights School system, four were referred for abortions by clinic staff. Recognizing that 90 percent of existing SBCs provide pregnancy tests and that states cannot require parental consent before a minor obtains an abortion, it would be naive to think that clinics do not commonly assist teens in obtaining abortions.

3. No Evidence of Effectiveness

After 15 years and more than 500 million dollars spent on attempting to combat teen pregnancy by use of contraceptives and abortions, the record of traditional family planning programs is one of documented failure. The conclusions of a careful study by Drs. Stan Weed and Joseph Olsen of the Institute for Research and Evaluation published in the Wall Street Journal (October 31, 1986) show that the traditional teen family planning programs are associated not with lower, but higher, rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, with birth rates declining moderately due to the promotion of abortion.

Media accounts have uncritically accepted claims of success for model SBC programs in St. Paul, Minnesota and Baltimore, Maryland, but in both cases only birth rates, not pregnancy rates, declined modestly, and serious methodological flaws in record keeping preclude a scientific assessment of results.

4. Parental Rights Are Violated

SBCs violate the fundamental rights of parents to raise and discipline their children. Parents give only blanket approval for a teen to participate in an SBC program, and are usually unaware that, by law, they will not be notified if their child is directed to an abortion clinic or given other sensitive family planning counsel. In fact, at two model SBC programs in the Muskegon Heights, Michigan school system, parents must send a slip to school asking that their teen not be enrolled in the clinic, otherwise, consent is assumed.

A teen’s records are the property of the SBC, and are kept confidential from both parents and the school board. The clinic staff is assumed to have greater interest and wisdom than parents in counseling a teen in the most sensitive decisions of life, and is completely protected by law from disclosure of their counsel to either parents or school board.