Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

The battle over birth control - Contraceptives in schools. DuSable clinic at heart of controversy.

About these ads

Marie Simpson is a widow and grandmother who's bewildered when she has to count all her grandchildren. She names and numbers them on her fingers up to 10, then stops. ``I can't count 'em,'' she says, adding that some were born in wedlock, some out. Some had teen mothers; some didn't.

Although she's a shy woman and doesn't speak much above a whisper, Mrs. Simpson knows what she wants. She wants to curb the high rate of teen pregnancies - even if it means giving out contraceptives at school-based clinics. In 1985, teen pregnancy estimates topped one million for 15 to 19-year-olds, plus an additional 30,000 for teen-agers under 15 years of age.

Mrs. Simpson showed up at a meeting on Chicago's South Side to lend support to the DuSable-Bogan health clinic that has met with a blitz of opposition for dispensing birth-control devices. The clinic is based within DuSable High School - and that's where the snag is.

Verbal skirmishes over the clinic's birth control program erupted long ago between advocates and critics, but not until recently did the imbroglio land in the legal arena.

Thirteen black clergymen from the South Side, parents, and an anti-abortion group filed suit this fall in Cook County's Circuit Court to halt the handing out of contraceptives at DuSable-Bogan. Although the clinic itself isn't a defendant in the suit, multiple charges were brought against the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the Chicago School Board, and the DuSable principal.

The list of charges includes violation of students' privacy because of clinic questions relating to sexual activity; failure to warn parents of risks involved in the use of certain birth control devices; an invasion of parents' rights to instruct their children; and violation of a Supreme Court ruling requiring school neutrality on issues involving religion (the use of contraceptives is counter to some peoples' religious beliefs). The suit also charges that the clinic program is designed to control black population.


Page 1 of 6

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.