Notice to Taxpayers

A portion of your tax dollars will be used to make sex counseling and prescription birth control drugs and devices available to your minor children at no cost and without your knowledge. This is the only notice you will receive.

How would parents react if they found that notice on their income tax forms? It is an entirely accurate statement of prevailing federal laws, regulations and practice. Parents are simply not told when big government counsels and equips their children for sex.

At long last, in 1981, Congress did mandate that federally funded "family planning" programs "to the extent possible . . . shall encourage family participation" in the provision of contraceptives to minors.

Accordingly, on Jan. 26, 1983, the Department of Health and Human Services took a small step toward involving the parents by issuing a regulation requiring that parents be notified within 10 days after their minor child receives prescription contraceptives from a federally funded clinic. This regulation is a sensible step to chip away at the "Berlin Wall," as then HHS secretary Richard Schweicker characterized it, that government has erected between parents and their children.

In attacking the regulation, the "family planning industry" and many newspapers claim, without credible evidence, that informing the parents will increase the number of adolescent pregnancies and abortions. The "industry" accepts the increasing rate of teen-age sexual activity as unalterable if not desirable. It conveniently ignores the fact that, ever since the federal government got involved, virtually every problem that the family planning formula of counselors and contraceptive service providers is supposed to prevent has grown much worse:

Teen-age pregnancy rates continue to rise; abortion among teen-agers has skyrocketed.

Increasing millions find themselves exposed to venereal diseases such as herpes.

Increasing numbers of illegitimate children are handicapped in their early lives as their unwed mothers face the difficult problems of raising children alone.

Social costs escalate as single mothers join the welfare ranks and poorly reared children grow into problem citizens.

Most tragic of all, the toll of human unhappiness continues to grow.

That sex is beautiful, joyful and powerful is not at issue here. No one opposes teen-agers' receiving information to help them place it in perspective. Indeed, parents have a special right and duty to provide such information, a duty shared by the clergy and physicians.

What is at issue is the role the federal government has been playing in facilitating and encouraging adolescent sexual activity without parental knowledge or participation. Millions of parents angrily resent the violation of their right to know what is said and given to their children by the government through entities like Planned Parenthood. Moreover, the "family planning" industry downplays the health risks for teen-age girls using prescription contraceptives. Clinics provide the pill and intrauterine devices with insufficient regard for the potential harm to the bodies of the recipients.

Articles in The Post itself have described the dangers of these drugs and devices. For example:

"According to a number of scientists familiar with research on oral contraceptives, there is no longer any doubt that the pill's side effects include potentially fatal diseases: heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, brain hemorrhages. Its relation to cancer is confusing. . . . It will be years before its real im pact is known" (Feb. 15, 1981).

"A leading pathologist (Dr. Prabodh K. Gupta, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) says, "There is no safe IUD and urges the nearly 3 million women using them to find another form of contraceptive because they cause infertility and life- threatening infections" (March 4, 1981).

Yet children as young as 13 years old, and perhaps younger, are expected to decide without the help of any responsible adult--except, of course, the "family planning professional"--whether to use those dangerous drugs and devices.

Research has shown that, when adolescents communicate with their parents about sex and sexuality, they are more likely to postpone sexual activity. Those who are sexually active after talking with their parents are far more likely to use contraceptives consistently and carefully. The fact is that the increase in premarital adolescent pregnancy is only the most obvious symptom of a deeper societal problem, a dramatic increase in illicit and ill-advised sexual activity among very young teenage boys and girls.

A government policy that continues to wink at such activity, using taxpayer dollars to pay for contraception for any adolescent who solicits it and withholding that information from parents, fails to pay even token respect to the overall emotional and physical health of the child, to the values of the family and, most important, to the rights and duties of parents.