California Attorney General Backs Down on Leaving School for Abortion Ruling

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Attorney General Backs Down on Leaving School for Abortion Ruling Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 14, 2004

Sacramento, CA ( — California state Attorney General Bill Lockyer is backing off from a ruling he issued earlier this month saying schools are not required to tell parents when a student leaves school to obtain "confidential medical services," such as an abortion.

After generating considerable opposition from pro-life groups and some school districts, Lockyer backed down from his ruling an interview KSTE radio’s "Paul and Phil Unplugged" in Sacramento.

"The law is ambiguous," Lockyer admitted. "There is a need for the legislature to clarify it."

He indicated that school districts that notify parents when their teenage sons or daughters leave campus for such medical treatment should not be concerned about facing lawsuits from the state.

At issue is a statute that says school districts may release students for confidential medical purposes without parental consent.

A separate California law requiring parents to be notified by abortion businesses when their teen daughter considers an abortion was struck by the state Supreme Court.

Lockyer previously issued a statement contending the policy is a requirement that prohibits schools from obtaining parental consent before students can be released.

But other legal analysis, such as scholars at the Pacific Justice Institute, who Lockyer consulted for a second opinion, say the law is not a requirement but merely allows schools to prevent parents from knowing.

Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family group, said she wasn’t surprised about Lockyer’s change of heart.

"It is clear that Lockyer has no confidence in his own opinion," she said.

"His political ideology dictates that minors should be emancipated to make their own personal medical decisions," she said. "It’s not surprising that, using circular legal arguments, he came to the conclusion that he did."

"Lockyer failed to cite one single case or statute that supports a school district’s authority to facilitate minors leaving campus during school hours," continued England. "It would have been easy for Lockyer to find legal rationale for school districts, as a matter of local control, to notify parents any time their children leave campus. But he chose not to do this."

In September, Rocklin Unified School District became the latest to pass a provision that limits students’ ability to leave school to obtain medical treatment without parental knowledge.

Meanwhile, the West Covina Unified School District has maintained such a parental involvement policy for more than ten years.

Mike Spence, president of the district, opposed Lockyer’s original opinion.

"This is simply a regurgitation of the arguments that we have shot down time and time again," Spence said. "The Attorney General’s staff appears to have started with a desired policy and then desperately, and not very successfully, searched for a legal rationale."

Related web sites:
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