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Opposing Pro-Abortion Counselling and Referrals in the Schools
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Information for Contacting Members of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, the Premier, and the Minister of Health Services
Minister of Health Services:
Leaders of Two Political Parties with as Yet No MLA's in Legislature Express Support for Parental Consent Provision
On April 30th (2003),
BCPTL wrote to the leaders of several provincial parties with as yet no MLAs
elected. We asked them what their answers would be, if they were MLAs, to
the questions we had asked the sitting MLAs. The leaders of British
Columbia Unity Party and of Reform British Columbia responded promptly with
"Yes" to all of the questions, indicating their support for requiring
parental consent for health referrals for minors. This paragraph is being
posted on May 3rd, and we do not yet have responses from the leaders of several
other parties without MLAs to whom the questions were also sent on April 30th.
The other parties whose
leaders were also sent the April 30th message asking their response to the above
Correspondence Between British Columbia MLAs and BCPTL on Parental Consent for Youth Health-Care Referrals
Note: All MLAs were sent messages in March, 2002, asking their stand on the matter of mandating parental consent for youth health-care referrals. As of May 27th, the only responses independently giving definite positions were the e-mails received from the Hon. Colin Hansen and from Lynn Stephens, Minister of State for Womlen's Equality. A number of Liberal MLAs referred to Mr. Hansen's reply in response to our question as to their own stand. As of May 10, 2005, not one Member of the Legislature had written to us in support of requiring parental consent for minors' health care. But see immediately above.:
In spite of great opposition, the government of the day, in Bill 81—1992—repealed Section 16 of the Infants Act, R..S.B.C. 1979, c. 196, and substituted new wording . This new wording of Section 16 gave power to a “health care provider” to arrange medical treatment of an infant without obtaining a consent to the health care from an infant’s parent or guardian. The Infants Act still contains the wording adopted in 1993. It is now embodied in the Infants Act [R.S.B.C. 1996] Chapter 223, Part 2, Section 17.
We are requesting that legislation be enacted to require the consent of an infant’s parent or guardian before a health care provider arranges health care, except in the case of a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment when the consent of the parent or guardian is not available. A petition is being circulated to enable citizens of British Columbia to join us in this request.
We are seeking support of all members of the provincial legislature, and would like to report that we have yours. (1) Do you favour legislation to require a parent’s or guardian’s consent to an infant’s health care except in a case such as given above. (2) If you favour such legislation, will you support it and vote for it if it is presented in the legislature? (3) Will, you if necessary present such legislation?
We would appreciate your replies to each of the above questions at your earliest convenience.
On behalf of the executive of British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life,
Message Received May 10, 2002,
I am writing in response to your recent letter to members of the
Message Sent by BCPTL on May 16th (by email) in Reply to the Above Message from the Hon. Colin Hansen:
Dear Mr. Hansen:
Thank you for your reply (received by e-mail May 10th) to my message sent in March, in which I conveyed the request of British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life that legislation be enacted to require the consent of an infant’s (minor’s) parent or guardian before a health care provider arranges health care, except in the case of a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment when the consent of the parent or guardian is not available.
I appreciate the full and courteous nature of your response, but regret that its effect is to deny our request and to justify the changes in the Infant’s Act brought in by a previous New Democratic Party government. It was our hope that your government was in favour of giving greater recognition to legitimate parental rights than we had come to expect from governments formed by the New Democratic Party.
May we respond to some points in your letter? You cite a number of possible cases where you feel that the requirement of parental permission for minors’ health treatment would cause problems.
We would like to point out a number of cases where a lack of a requirement for such parental permission could cause serious injustice and possible harm to infants. You will have undoubtedly noted that we are a pro-life organization, and we are concerned that under the present Infants Act a girl of fourteen may come home, having had an abortion without her parents’ consent and without their having even had the chance to counsel their child in a situation where she may most need it. There is a considerable body of evidence that an abortion—apart from any moral issues involved—may have harmful psychological and physical effects on the one who undergoes it. (One example is the conclusion reached by many researchers that abortions can increase the risk of breast cancer. Please see the note at the end of this letter.) Other citizens, who may not be pro-life, may have other concerns. Under the Infants Act a child may be given an inoculation which the parent may have reason to think is dangerous.
Your response to the above concerns might be to repeat that “. . .responsibility to make judgements about both patients’ capability and patients’ best interests rests with the medical practitioner caring for the young person." But surely the medical practitioner cannot decide matters of health care as one having absolute authority. In the case of adults, the consent of the patient is normally required. Presumably under the Infants Act the consent of the infant is required. But in other matters involving considerations of that infant’s welfare the consent of the parent is required. Why in the case of something so crucial as a major health-care decision is a parent’s consent not required, even in the case of a young child? Surely there is something wrong with a law which denies parental rights to that extent.
You state that “The legal principles established in the Infants Act codify the common law rules that have always applied to young persons . . . .” I doubt that you will find on careful examination that this is the case. Certainly at the time the Infants Act was changed in the 1970’s [sic--actually in 1992] it came as a surprise and shock to parents to learn that their parental rights to decide the care of their children could be completely overridden by a “health-care worker.”
The possibility that some young persons might not seek out medical care unless their parents remained uninformed of possible health care to be given must be set over against the absolute authority given a health-care worker under the Infants Act to take over the parent’s role and to not only advise an impressionable young person but to arrange treatment without any necessity for parental involvement.
Parents cannot expect to be satisfied if the only reassurance they are given in the face of the overwhelming power given to health-care workers is the suggestion of an “implied ethical obligation to try to persuade the young person to involve his or her parents.” An ethical obligation is not a legal requirement, and so is not enforceable.
Again, thank you for your reply. We believe that the issue we have raised should be one to be considered personally by all MLAs, and that they are responsible to their constituents to take . . .stands which they can personally justify.
Sincerely yours, . . .
“Abortion-Breast Cancer Link” by Dr. Joel Brind, PhD (http://www.abortioncancer.com)
In October 1996, Dr Brind and colleagues from the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey published a "Comprehensive Review and Meta-analysis" on ABC in the British Medical Association’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
An article by Michelle Nichols in The Scotsman Online, Dec. 6, 2001, cited a study by the Populations and Pensions Research that suggested that “.. . .up to 50 per cent of breast cancer cases in England and Wales over the next 26 years will be "attributable to abortion."
The purpose of calling attention to these studies is to point out that
parents may have good reason to question the right of health-care workers to
arrange what the Infants Act refers to as “health care.” —E.S.H..
Message Received June 6, 2002, from Premier Gordon Campbell, in Response to the May 16th Letter to Colin Hansen:
Thank you for your email regarding the request you have made to the Honourable Colin Hansen, Minister of Health Services to change the Infants Act.
I appreciate the time you have taken to share your concerns with me and encourage you to continue your discussions with Minister Hansen. I have every confidence that he is in the best position to consider the issues you are addressing.
Thank you for keeping me informed.
Thank you for your letter regarding Section 17 of the Infants Act. You
indicate that your organization is opposed to this provision which allows a
minor to access health care without parental consent if the minor understands
the nature and possible consequences of the proposed health care.
Parents Shut Out: School Abortion Counselling and Referrals Allowed; Parents Need Not Be Consulted or Informed.
This month (March, 2000) we learned that British Columbia, as of May first, will become the first province to dispense birth control pills without a prescription. "Teens won't need parents' okay for pills," a headline in The Vancouver Sun (March 22nd, p.A14) read. But the article went on to say that "Under provincial statutes (the Infants Act), anyone under the age of 19 can give consent to their own health care, and sexually active teenagers do not need to seek their parents' permission for contraceptive services."
What not all parents realize is that the schools can be used for pro-abortion counselling and referrals. Perhaps it would not happen in your family, but imagine if you can, that your fourteen-year-old daughter arrives home having had an abortion at a local hospital or abortion clinic. You have been given no notification beforehand, no say in the decision, and no opportunity to give your child the benefit of your parental advice or support. Furthermore, you learn that the abortion took place as a result of a referral from your child's school. This scenario is one which parents should realize is fully possible in British Columbia. There is no law or ministry directive forbidding the school to play such an abortion-advocacy or abortion-referral role.
This state of affairs has existed for some time. Our publication, Parents' Alert, reported in its Spring, 1995, edition that we and others had for some time been investigating provincial government policy regarding the sue of public schools for abortion counselling and referrals. The result was to establish firmly, with evidence from letters from the provincial government, that provincial government policy is to allow such counselling and referrals, which may be done without the permission of students' parents and even without informing their parents beforehand of an impending abortion. Unfortunately, nothing has happened to change that situation. n
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