ON CAPITOL HILL
Attempt to dump mental screening fails
Rep. Ron Paul hoped to stop mandatory federal program for children
Posted: September 10, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
An amendment offered by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, in the House of Representatives yesterday that would have remove from an appropriations bill a new mandatory mental-health screening program for America's children failed by a vote of 95-315.
Paul's amendment would have removed the program from the Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005. Ninety-four Republicans and one Democrat sided with Paul, while 118 Republicans, 196 Democrats and one Independent voted against the amendment.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the New Freedom Initiative recommends screening not only for children but eventually for every American. The initiative came out of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which President Bush established in 2002.
Critics of the plan say it is a thinly veiled attempt by drug companies to provide a wider market for high-priced antidepressants and antipsychotic medication, and puts government in areas of Americans' lives where it does not belong.
As WND reported yesterday, Kent Snyder of the Paul-founded Liberty Committee argued strongly against the program:
"The real payoff for the drug companies is the forced drugging of children that will result – as we learned tragically with Ritalin – even when parents refuse."
The congressman, who is known for his strict adherence to the Constitution, wrote in a letter to his colleagues before the vote: "As you know, psychotropic drugs are increasingly prescribed for children who show nothing more than children's typical rambunctious behavior. Many children have suffered harmful effects from these drugs. Yet some parents have even been charged with child abuse for refusing to drug their children. The federal government should not promote national mental-health screening programs that will force the use of these psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin."
The New Freedom Commission found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental-health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children.
The commission said, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviors and emotional disorders."
Schools, the panel concluded, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.
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