Thursday, March 29, 2007

Is there some sort of competition going on among religious conservatives to find new ideologically pure ways to harm young people's health?

First (via Ann at Feministing and Tom at If I Ran the Zoo) we have the North Dakota legislature requiring parental notification for prenatal care:

Pregnant girls should get adult permission before they get medical checkups for their unborn babies, the state House decided as representatives defeated a proposal to allow teenagers to seek confidential prenatal care.

North Dakota law now requires a doctor to have permission from a parent or guardian to treat pregnant girls who are younger than 18....

As Ann says,

Just to be clear, we're talking about prenatal care here, not abortion.

So if you think you'll be beaten, or forced to have an abortion, if you tell your parents you're pregnant, tough luck -- no prenatal care for you.

Now, you'd think it would be hard to compete with that -- but you'd be wrong. The Pennsylvania branch of the Reverend Donald Wildmon's American Family Association has a three-parter:

...The American Family Association of Pennsylvania is hoping to derail a bill introduced in the state's House that would require insurance companies to pay for the HPV vaccinations of individuals between the ages of 11 and 27.

The AFA of Pennsylvania is also voicing opposition to a Senate resolution requiring mental health screening for school students....

[Diane] Gramley [president of the group] is also troubled by the Pennsylvania Senate's passage of an anti-bullying bill....

Wow. Let's run through those one at a time.

Requiring insurance companies to cover HPV vaccinations -- not mandating vaccinations, just requiring insurance coverage -- that's bad. And no, it doesn't matter that, as even the AFA of PA admits, the bill "would not permit vaccines to be administered to minors under the age of 18 without written parental consent." It's still bad.

Screening kids for suicidal tendencies: Also bad. (This recommendation actually came from a Bush-sponsored commission -- but it doesn't matter to the AFA of PA. I'll grant that here the group might have a point -- it's possible that drug companies are pushing this legislation in the hopes of expanding their antidepressant market.)

And opposition to the anti-bullying bill -- well, that's out of fear of The Big Gay Menace. Even though there's no reference to sexual orientation in the bill, AFA of PA would rather have no state anti-bullying policy than one that might be construed as tolerant of the notion that heaping abuse on a teenager who's gay (or believed to be gay) is a bad thing.

I'm sure we'll see worse, of course.

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