Inside Illinois
Federal amendment would cut funding for mental health screening initiatives

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

By Rhonda Robinson, Leader correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an attempt to pull the power plug on the states’ ability to implement President Bush’s New Freedom Commission recommendations, Republican Congressman Ron Paul [Texas] is expected to offer an amendment that will prohibit funding for the creation or implementation of any new universal mental health screening programs to the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education appropriations bill, scheduled to be debated on the house floor today and Thursday.

Conservatives and medical professionals have been alarmed at the unprecedented governmental intrusion of the NFC on mental health and what is perceived as pharmaceutical mining of America’s school children.

Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, the Alliance for Human Research Protection, the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons are all lining up to support an amendment that will pull funding for mental health screening and preserve parental rights.

According to Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, “There are no reliable, scientifically valid diagnostic tools for uncovering hidden mental illness, nor any effective preventive interventions. This will only produce false positives.”

Sharav extended an additional warning to Illinois women, where plans are to mandatorily screen all pregnant mothers. “How much more intrusive can the government get than to reach into a mother’s womb?” asked Sharav.

Sharav also warned that screening will increase the number of persons “diagnosed” with a mental illness, thereby increasing the “already skyrocketing use of psychotropic drugs.”

The aforementioned groups are encouraging their members to contact their congressmen to vote for Paul’s amendment. Texans for Safe Education and Ablechild have also joined efforts and launched a petition drive [] in response to the NFC screening recommendations, with a goal to send thousands of signatures to Washington.

The declaration states in part: “We, the undersigned, solemnly declare that we will not allow our children to be the subjects of any form of implementation of New Freedom Commission recommendations to screen our children for signs of ‘mental illness’…. Appropriate services in today's psychiatric world means psychotropic drugs, and there are already an estimated nine million school-age children on psychiatric drugs. We consider this to represent a tragic situation and a clear and present danger to our children.”

Meanwhile here in Illinois, legislators are shaking their heads over the potential ramifications of Illinois' recently passed Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003, which would implement the NFC recommendations.

State Senator Chris Lauzen [R-Aurora] said, “If there has been an error, I want to be a part of repairing that error. I’d be happy to cosponsor legislation substantially modifying or even repealing the Act after people who are a lot more expert than I am help us sort through this.”

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