Family Planning Act In Vermont

The State of Vermont, with approval of the Legislature, has accepted funds under the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, P.L. 91-572, 84 Stat. 1504 (Dec. 24, 1970) (codified as 42 U.S.C. 300 to 300a-5, 3505a, 3505b). Among the Act's stated objectives are "to assist in making comprehensive voluntary family planning services readily available to all persons desiring such services" and "to develop and make readily available information . . . on family planning . . . to all persons desiring such information." Id. 2(1) and (5). The program, also known as Title X of the Public Health Service Act, has served teenagers since its inception. See Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Heckler, 229 U.S. App. D.C. 336, 712 F.2d 650, 652 (D.C. Cir. 1983). Indeed, since enacting Title X, Congress has "frequently expressed its increasing concern about the still unmet family planning needs of sexually active teenagers," amending the statute in 1978 to require that Title X projects offer "'a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services (including . . . services for adolescents).'" Id. (quoting 42 U.S.C. 300(a) and citing congressional committee reports from 1974 and 1975). Notwithstanding statutory language encouraging family involvement in the provision of family planning services to teenagers, the federal courts have invalidated regulations requiring Title X grantees to notify parents or guardians before providing contraceptives to unemancipated minors. See 712 F.2d at 660-61; New York v. Heckler, 719 F.2d 1191, 1196 (2d Cir. 1983). The D.C. Circuit put particular emphasis on Congress's finding that "confidentiality is essential to attract adolescents to the Title X clinics," without which the availability of family planning services to teenagers would be "severely undermined." Planned Parenthood, 712 F.2d at 660. Under current federal regulations, a recipient of Title X funds may not require, whether pursuant to state law or otherwise, that parents give consent, or even be notified of, the services being provided. See County of St. Charles v. Missouri Family Health Council, 107 F.3d 682, 685 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 859, 118 S. Ct. 160, 139 L. Ed. 2d 105 (1997); Does v. Utah Dep't of Health, 776 F.2d 253, 255-56 (10th Cir. 1985); Parents United for Better Schools, Inc. v. School Dist. of Philadelphia Bd. of Educ., 978 F. Supp. 197, 208-09 (E.D. Pa. 1997).