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Abortion Referral from a Seattle School-Based Health Center Upsets Mother

Seattle, WA
The mother of a Ballard High School student in Seattle, Washington, was livid when she found out her daughter’s school-based health center made a referral for the teen to receive an abortion from a local health clinic.[1] She stated that she felt “like my rights were completely stripped away.”[2] Despite the mother’s strong feelings, officials indicated that the referral was made in accordance with state law. A spokeswoman from the Seattle School District indicated that “from a legal/procedural standpoint, it’s a nonissue.”[3]
The mother had signed a consent form for parents and guardians that allows their children to use the school-based health center. The form states, “Youth may independently access reproductive-health care at any age.”[4] As a spokesperson for the Seattle and King County Public Health Department, which runs the centers for the school district, acknowledged, “Not every individual is aware of what is included in ‘reproductive-health care,’” In the future, he stated, “we’re going to work constructively with our partners and experts in adolescent health to strategize the best ways to communicate that.”[5]
The spokesperson further indicated that the services provided to students by school-based health centers are no different from the services provided by a pediatrician’s office or community clinic.[6] Abortions are not provided at the health centers; a student who wants an abortion is referred elsewhere, and the health center staff may assist the student with making the appointment. This process is “no different [from] how it would be handled in any health-care setting,” the public health official emphasized.[7]
Washington is one of eleven states that allow minors to consent to an abortion without parental notification or consent. Parental involvement is also not required in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington, D.C.[8]

[1] Marc Ramirez, “Abortion Referral Puts Spotlight on School-based Health Centers,” 25 March 2010, accessed 12 April 2010, <>.

[2] “Mother Furious after In-school Clinic Sets Up Teen’s Abortion,” KOMO TV, 25 March 2010, accessed 13 April 2010, <>.

[3] Ramirez, “Abortion Referral.”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Guttmacher Institute, State Policies in Brief: An Overview of Minors’ Consent Laws, May 2010, accessed 18 May 2010, <>.