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What do Planned Parenthood and Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson have in common?
Both oppose San Diego Unified’s new proposals for when and how school staff can notify parents of pregnant teens, and both are turning out at Tuesday’s school board meeting to voice their stances.
Parents should always be notified, Anderson’s staff said.
Parents should never be notified — at least, not by the schools, Planned Parenthood said.
Currently, school staffers must notify parents if they learn a teen is pregnant or planning an abortion. The policy contradicts a 2004 opinion by California’s attorney general, which bans schools from requiring parental notification before students leave campus for confidential reproductive healthcare.
School district attorneys revamped the policy, and have proposed a new set of rules that generally prohibits school counselors and nurses from notifying parents, unless telling a parent or guardian would “avert a clear and present danger to the health, safety or welfare of the minor student.”
A companion proposal would grant permission to students in grades 7 through 12 to leave school for confidential medical care, provided that the student gets approval from the school counselor or nurse. Trustees are scheduled to vote on the new policies Tuesday.
Anderson, who represents El Cajon, urged San Diego Unified to keep its current policy, and announced a press conference Tuesday before the school board convenes. Parents should always be notified if a student is pregnant, his staff argued.
“This policy … would allow certain conditions where it would be kept secret from parents,” said Mike Spence, a spokesman for Anderson. “The attorney general’s opinion is just that — an opinion. The code is quite clear that schools have the option to notify parents, and we believe parents should always be notified.”
Planned Parenthood also opposes the proposal — for the opposite reason. Schools don’t have the legal authority to notify parents, no matter the circumstances, said Vince Hall, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside counties. Doing so undermines a teen’s right to confidential medical care, he said.
“The goal of confidentiality will be completely destroyed,” Hall said. “In the mind of a scared 17-year-old in a crisis, the mere threat of a parental notification policy will cause them to refuse to seek the medical care that they desperately need.”
Unlike Anderson, Planned Parenthood does support the district’s companion proposal to allow students to leave campus for confidential medical care, but said the notification policy would undermine the rule.