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Child Abuse in Domestic Family Planning Programs

July 16, 2002

Volume 4/ Number 16

Dear Colleague:

Funding for domestic family planning under Title X was $254 million for FY 2001. Much of this money goes towards providing contraception to teens and minors. Given the abuse, many lawmakers have called these programs into question, and are calling on federal regulators to at least revise federal guidelines to mandate parental notification.

Steven W. Mosher


Child Abuse in Domestic Family Planning Programs

If you’re the parent of a 12-year-old girl who was sexually abused by a high school teacher, you might think that state family planning officials would report this case of statutory rape to you if they knew about it.

However, in many states, there is no statewide policy for reporting cases of statutory rape which are related to federally-funded teen contraception programs. Workers in Title X family planning programs for teens, according to Title X federal regulations, are not obliged to tell the victim’s parents anything.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, policies for reporting cases which involve the abuse of minors in this state vary from locality to locality throughout Virginia. And parents, it turns out, not only in Virginia but nationwide, never have to be notified at all.

Virginia’s Title X clinicians last year provided contraception to an estimated 13,683 teens. In none of the cases, where minors received contraception under Title X in Virginia (and over 13,000 teens did so last year), were the workers required to notify parents. (1)

Providing contraception to a minor is ill-advised and dangerous. Prescription chemical contraception have risks for adults, and even greater risks for children who are still developing physically and emotionally. In addition, children are not capable of giving their informed consent to any medical procedure, much less one with such serious implications.

Despite this abuse, under current Title X regulations, clinic workers are merely “encouraged” to inform parents if their children receive contraception.

At a congressional hearing last week, organized by pro-family champion Joseph Pitts (R-PA), testimony was provided by John A. Heisler of McHenry County, Illinois. Heisler testified that “a 12-year-old grade school girl had been driven to a County Health Department Clinic on several occasions by a 37-year-old Crystal Lake Middle School teacher who had been having sexual relations with her for 18 months, to receive injections of the contraceptive drug Depo-Provera. Unfortunately, federal Title X regulations prevented her parents from being informed.”(2)

This is state-sanctioned child abuse.

“If the federal government continues to mandate that we keep parents in the dark, we will be happy to provide for our own without help from Title X funding,” Heisler concluded.

Additional Title X abuses, noted by the press, include the following:

After testing positive on a pregnancy test at her high-school clinic, a 16-year-old Portland girl collapsed after being given an injection of Depo-Provera. The girl did not need to provide parental permission before receiving the injection, because her school health program is a recipient of Title X funding.(3)

In Georgia, a middle school counselor transported two minor girls (aged 14 and 15) to a local Title X health clinic to get prescription birth control pills without notifying the girls’ parents. When the parents learned of the incident, the counselor told the parents this was a confidential matter and none of their business. (4)

Additional material provided at the hearing shows how a Michigan health department confirmed they dispense any type of birth control to children of any age, including Norplant—which requires surgery—to girls at the tender age of nine years old.

Many members of Congress have had enough, and are calling on the Department of Health and Human Services, which regulates Title X, to revise its regulatory guidelines to mandate parental notification.

“[I]n the state of Pennsylvania,” said Congressman Pitts, “a minor needs a written parental or guardian consent to have his or her ears pierced, to get a learner’s permit to drive a care, to receive an aspirin in school, to attend a field trip, to get a tattoo…. The list goes on. … However, federal regulations allow a minor to get contraceptives (including injected drugs like Depo Provera and surgical implants like Norplant) in health care clinics receiving Title X funds without parental consent [or notification]. … We don’t expect the government to watch over every teenager in America—that is the parent’s responsibility. However, by keeping parents out of the loop, we are, in effect, removing them from the


Mr. Pitts, along with other Members of Congress, thinks the time has come to alter current Title X regulations so that Title X clinicians must inform parents about their children. Because of this initiative at the federal level, pro-family lawmakers in Virginia are stepping up efforts to examine child abuse and parental rights violations associated with Title X programs carried out in this state.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services needs to revise its regulations to protect children and to protect parental rights. Our children’s safety is at risk. And Congress may want to consider whether providing contraception to minors isn’t an abuse of federal power and a misuse of taxpayer dollars.


1.Interview with Barbara Parker, Virginia Department of Health, July 15, 2002; Virginia Code, 18.2-63.

2.Testimony, of John A. Heisler, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, July 11, 2002.

3.Associated Press, March 31, 2000.

4.Athens Daily News/Athens Banner Herald, June 17, 1995.

5.Congressman Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Opening Statement, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, July 11, 2002.

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