Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Big Brother Is Watching...

If you don't think so, read on:

First, in Missouri:

A bill that seeks to overhaul Missouri's child abuse reporting laws could require teachers, doctors, nurses and others to report sexually active teenagers and children to the state's abuse hot line.

Until Monday, the bill had been sailing through the Legislature with little formal debate. It was scheduled for a House vote this morning, but on Monday the bill's author sent it back to committee for revisions.

Critics say the bill offers confusing and unnecessary changes to a law that has been in place for years. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Richard Byrd, R-Kirkwood, said the legislation offers a needed fix to a child abuse reporting law that has recently been contested in court.

Perhaps the most controversial provision of the bill is one that many say would require educators, medical personnel and other professionals to report "substantial evidence of sexual intercourse by an unmarried minor under the age of consent."

The proponents of the bill argue that it is intended to apply only to children under fifteen, and that for this group any sexual acts are against the law. Still, this law proposal does expand the ear of the Big Brother in ways that can conflict with the other duties of educators and others who work with children.

Next, in Indiana:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana is suing the state after the attorney general's office seized the medical records of eight juvenile patients, including five from the Lafayette area.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis seeks temporary and permanent injunctions against Attorney General Steve Carter and his Medicaid Fraud Control Unit from searching the records of 12- and 13-year-old patients.

The unit, since March 1, has seized records from clinics in Bloomington, Franklin and Lafayette.

"They're using a pretty intimidating tool and twisting it in an effort to get confidential records," said Betty Cockrum, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

She said of Carter, "He does not have, under the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the provision to seek the information he is seeking."

Spokeswoman Staci Schneider of the attorney general's office said the unit seized the records as part of an ongoing investigation to determine if Planned Parenthood has been reporting instances of child molestation.

Failing to do so constitutes abuse and/or neglect, she said.

Maybe there are valid reasons in this case, too, but surely patient confidentiality is important, too?

It's hard not think that all this has something to do with the Christian right and its interest in controlling all things sexual. I wonder if they noticed my she-blogger picture (below on this page) and if they did whether my internet connections are already monitored? Wouldn't that be fun!
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