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Board not elected to make health care decisions for students

PorterShould the Hillsboro School District be making decisions about who can touch your minor child’s body?

The Hillsboro School Board (HSB) is being urged by some to change its district policy and begin allowing their School-Based Health Clinic (SBHC) to distribute hormonal contraceptives — this despite the fact that HSB members were not elected nor the superintendent hired to make health care decisions for students (ORS 322.072). Will the Hillsboro School District (HSD) allow itself to threaten family freedoms and autonomy so that the Virginia Garcia Memorial Clinic can obtain future customers and benefit financially?

The bottom-line question is: Once dropped off at school, are parents and guardians in charge of their child’s health care or are strangers? Parents and guardians deserve to know who will be touching their child, what will be inserted or injected into their child, what will be ingested, prescribed or recommended to their child while at school.

Given the controversial, physically invasive and potentially life altering services that the HSD’s clinic could be giving or referring minors to, the HSB would be wise to be extremely cautious before endorsing this policy change.

Oregon SBHC’s operate like any other clinic, follow HIPAA laws and the “Minor Rights: Access and Consent to Health Care” statues (http://tinyurl.com/z4khjtz).

It is important to understand what is included by the term “contraceptives” (http://tinyurl.com/zujorpe). SBHC services (provided or referred) may include the following:

n Copper intrauterine devicen IUDs with progestin (a hormone)

n Shot/injection

n Oral contraceptives (the pill)

n The patch

n Condoms

n Vaginal contraceptive ring

n Emergency contraception (Plan B/morning-after pill)

n Abortion

n Sterilization surgery

n Surgical sterilization implant

n Implantable rod

The HSD surely does not need the added burden of possible safety, health and liability issues distributing contraceptives to students might bring. Adopting a policy that takes authority away from parents not only creates a wedge between parent/child relationships, it also discriminates against the civil rights of families who hold various values and beliefs. Where is the equity in this?

Having a policy where the HSD will make the “best attempt to notify parents” is not sufficient. As much as one might like to think, the HSD will be unable to monitor or guarantee a “best attempt to notify parents” due to issues around minor consent laws and confidentiality. Oregon certified SBHCs cannot be tailored to fit the values of their community, operate like any other clinic, follow HIPAA laws and the Oregon Health Authority’s “Minor Rights: Access and Consent to Health Care” (ORS 109.640; 109.675), leaving the HSD complicit in not supporting the legal rights of parents.

Does the HSD want to take authority away from parents to oversee the health care and protection of their kids? Absent extreme situations, no parent should be barred from knowing what medical treatment their child is being given while at school. This is not up for debate or compromise.

Lori Porter is director of Parents’ Rights in Education. She lives in Beaverton.