Maryland School District Violates Pregnant Students' Rights
February 08, 2008
A school district in Maryland has instituted a policy of informing parents of a studentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pregnancy regardless of that studentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wishes.
A revised regulation that directs Howard County school officials to notify parents when students reveal they are pregnant has drawn criticism from health experts who say it violates a young womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right to privacy and jeopardizes health care.
The policy and accompanying procedures appear to be among the strictest in the region.
Health experts say that studentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ willingness to seek care will decline.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no question this will have a chilling effect on kids coming forward,Ã¢â‚¬Â said County Health Officer Peter Beilenson. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to slow down health care.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HowardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s policy Ã¢â‚¬Å“really pushes the issue of informing the parents, when state law says minors have the right to make decisions independent of the parents,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Deborah Chilcoat, an education and training specialist for Planned Parenthood of Maryland and co-chair of a county coalition on adolescent sexuality and reproductive health. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to be in the best interests of young people in Howard County,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.