A national pro-life group has rallied members of 16 churches against a Culver City student health clinic that it says will cause sexual activity to increase among high school and middle school students.
Virginia Brownson, president of the West Los Angeles chapter of the Orange County-based Crusade for Life, said opponents of the clinic expect more than 200 people to protest before the Culver City Board of Education meets Tuesday night.
Brownson said the protesters, mainly members of 16 Protestant churches in Culver City and West Los Angeles, oppose the clinic despite a decision by the school board prohibiting the clinic from dispensing contraceptives to students. She said parents fear that their children will seek birth control advice and "experiment" with premarital sex.
"The availability of free medical services would encourage some (students) to explore the use of contraceptives such as the pill, the diaphragm and the IUD" without consulting parents, she said.
Brownson also said she believes the school board intends to allow contraceptives at the clinic sometime in the future.
Robert G. Knopf, a member of the school board, said the board will reevaluate its policies concerning the clinic, including the contraceptive issue. He said he preferred the clinic dispense contraceptives to those students who are having sex "instead of having them go somewhere else" for birth control.
Knopf said statistics from school-based clinics in other states show that birth control counselors encourage students to start having sex only at an older age.
"Children aren't prepared to be involved sexually," Knopf said. "The counseling is what can (help) them to stay away and say they do not want to be involved."
Brownson said, however, that her group will continue to oppose the clinic. "We are going to fight this to the end to protect these children."
She said that the protesters will gather at 4100 Irving Place at 6 p.m. but will not attend the 7:30 board meeting. She said the protest coincides with the 14th anniversary on Jan. 22 of the 1973 Rowe vs. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which legalized abortion.
The board last month unanimously approved the plan by UCLA health officials for a clinic on the joint campus of Culver City High School and Middle School. The clinic will offer a broad range of services, such as minor illness treatment, eye and skin care and health counseling.
The board, however, voted to ban distribution of contraceptives because of parents' objections.
Crusade for Life, based in Fountain Valley, is a national pro-life group with 22 chapters in California, Brownson said. Its founder, producer Don Smith, co-produced "Silent Scream," a film that purported to show a fetus reacting to an abortion procedure. The organization sent copies of the controversial tape to members of Congress, Brownson said.