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Philosophy, Law and Politics

Law Is Our Only Legally Required Social Didactic

Do we only garner community support and respect when we firmly plant our feet in the soil, or, in our concrete of modern times, and discuss our world from top to bottom. Those concerns of science are most significant and are necessary to our daily, quotidian existence. They are on top and are accorded a greater priority than those related to aesthetics and art. We respect our civilized lives, culture and government, as our governments have arisen from more, primitive versions of written governing documents: federal, state and local. We defend the rights and privileges our democratic republic grants and pledges to ensure to citizens and, in some cases, residents not yet citizens.

Every citizen, and those not yet citizens, in America, possess details that give rise to abstractions as attributes of personhood. Our American soil and modern concrete imparts into our indicia of personhood, and synergizes within our American populace and guests, a refinement of our civilization.

Americans will refine society until achieving natural extinction of our planet. America’s continuing writing of its history, and the contributions of its history makers, will share within the pages. In learning how to make and share history, we must explain the puzzles as we solve them. We mature within the course of both our history and our future, and the varied social institutions. More importantly, we must explain our popular lawmaking, both within the formal, authorized bodies of government, as well as lawmaking through the informal popular influence of citizens and residents.

Each law in America is an historical fact, from our legislatures as statute, and as common law and law at equity from state and federal judiciaries. (See, Maine, Henry Sumner. Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society, and Its Relation to Modern Ideas, Chap. IX.)  As the history and nation grows and refines, commerce advances, and our world increasingly becomes more complex as do the contracts governing transactions. Legislatures enact and reform statutes. Governmental agencies study and regulate specialized subject maters. Our courts define words, review state action and rule upon issues of law and fact.

The communities we live in grow to more and more contain aesthetics, literary attributes, sciences, and technologies. Our laws increase to permit our use, and our continued revision of our laws permit their continued use. Most of our new laws arise from contracts between two or more parties. Contracts impart principles of fair and honest dealing, which Judges — elected and appointed — review and interpret, with justice and fairness to the parties, the legal community and society. The contracts increase in complexity and sophistication.

Generationally, each of us, as did our predecessors and as will our future descendants, gleans a sense of self. This sense of individual, personal morality exists distinct from our popular majority’s collective value system we voluntarily self-impose. (See, Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Chap. I.) All the laws of the community, as well as the values embodied within us, create a sacredness we and government respect. (See, Maine, Henry Sumner. Ancient Law: Its Connection with the Early History of Society, and Its Relation to Modern Ideas, Chap. IX.)

In the words of my father, Charles Butler Nuckolls, Jr., a retired history teacher: “patriotism is a love of country not for what it is, but for what it is able to become.” Our personal and collective morality, and the laws arising from them, are to be revised and remedied if we are to be properly accorded respect thereunder.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

 

Philosophy, Law and Politics

How Do Federally Funded Entities Provide for the Family Planning of Minors and Vulnerable Adult Populations?

The Comments Letter below was Submitted Today Regarding  Proposed Rulemaking  by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.

July 22, 2018

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health

Office of Population Affairs

Attention: Family Planning

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 716G

200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20201

Via Electronic Submission to: www.regulations.gov                                                        

                         Re: Docket No.: HHS-OS-2018-0008 (“Family Planning”)

Dear Assistant Secretary,

            I write with interest in the proposed amendment of 42 C.F.R. Part 59, and, specifically, the promulgation of regulations, to be codified at 42 C.F.R. § 59.17, by the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS” or, alternatively, the “Department”). The proposed rules concern current agency restrictions upon funding pursuant to 42 U.S.C §§300-300a-6, originally enacted in 1970 as the Public Health Service Act (P.L. 91-572) (the “PHS Act” or the “Act”).  Please consider this letter formal comments upon this proposed rule in response to the Department’s notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments, as published in the Federal Register, on June 1, 2018. (83 Fed. Reg. 25502-25533). I support this proposed rule, in part, and I believe it achieves the primary objectives of the Act, “to support preventive family planning services, population research, infertility services and other related medical, information, and educational activities.” (H.R. Rep. No 91-1667, at 8-9 (1970) (Conf. Rep.) (as quoted in 83 Fed. Reg. at 25502).

            The Department envisions that proposed new rule 42 C.F.R. §59.17 will aid in the achievement of the expressed statutory purpose in the new rule’s implementation of a requirement that entities receiving funding for the authorized purpose, both public and private not-for-profit, duly comply with all applicable State and Local laws requiring notification or reporting of sex crimes against both minor and adult clients. See, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, P.L. 115-141, Div. H, sec. 208, 132 Stat. 348, 736 (2018) (83 Fed. Reg. at 25519-25520). In providing this protection to both minors and vulnerable adult populations, the proposed rule imposes an ongoing obligation upon funded family planning counselors to “comply with all State and local laws requiring notification or reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence or human trafficking (collectively, ‘State notification laws’),” regardless of the age of the client. (to be codified as 42 C.F.R. §59.17(a)).

          Under the proposed rule, each funded entity would reconcile this broader purpose with its prefunding certification attestation as to compliance with a further duty that it: “encourages family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services.” Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Public Law 115-141, Div. H, sec. 207, 132 Stat. 348, 736 (2018)(quoted in 83  Fed. Reg. at 25503). This narrower duty also requires that it “provides counseling to minors on how to resist attempts to coerce minors into engaging in sexual activities.” Id. And, as previously stated, in doing the foregoing “no provider of services … shall be exempt from any State law requiring notification or the reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest.” Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Public Law 115-141, Div. H, sec. 208, 132 Stat. 348, 736 (2018) (as quoted at 83 Fed. Reg. 25503).

              Apart from the regulatory provisions setting forth the type of family planning counseling funded under the proposed amendment of 42 C.F.R. Part 59, the Department should consider that the concern intended to be met by this amendment envisions that certain adults and certain unemancipated minors are residents within compromised households and relationships. They are without full exercise of their legal privilege and right of self-governance, and, as presumed by the current and proposed regulations, live without legal recourse. Most importantly, many in a compromised living situation, act improperly and contrary to criminal law prior to becoming the victim envisioned by the proposed rule.  They engage in what is properly denominated criminal conduct when acting in self-defense so that they do not, if able, become the type of victim this proposed rule seeks to aid. In remedy, perhaps the Department should impose upon funding receipts a similar requirement to report all instances of general criminal conduct within the family unit or relationship, as to all adults and all children, even if the possible misconduct is not related to acts of sexual abuse.

          In the explanation of the proposed rule, the Department acknowledges that funded family service providers at times do not inquire as to the age of the child or teenager receiving services, for maintaining confidentiality encourages young people to seek counseling. (83 Fed. Reg. 25520). Similarly, compromised adults and children might not disclose problems of nonsexually related criminal conduct. Yet, compromised individuals develop an unfounded sense of personal shame and self-blame, even when they are not those who act in self-defense before services are needed.

         Perhaps, in remedy, the Department should require funded providers to not only notify or report as to the possibly victimized client to whom services are provided. But, providers should, as well, notify or report to State and Local governments all suspected criminal offenses, committed by minors as well as adults, of which a provider becomes aware in assessing the needs and living situations of their client. Specifically, in addition to reporting putatively criminal  facts  learned of when counseling vulnerable adults, the funded entity would notify or report as to all possible criminal activity of which it becomes aware when complying with the provider’s obligation under the new rule “to conduct a preliminary screening of any [minor under the legal age of consent] who presents with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), pregnancy, or any suspicion of abuse, in order to rule out victimization of a minor.” (to be codified as 42 C.F.R. 59.17(b)(1)(iv).

         In summary, proposed new rule 42 C.F.R.  §59.17 provides, as intended, that “minors and vulnerable populations” within the United States are protected by requiring family planning providers to comply with State and Local laws as to possible abuse. Yet, the providers might also include within their mandatory reporting all possible criminal offenders learned of in the course of providing counseling to both minors and adults, even if the activity does not constitute sexual abuse.  Children, their parents, as well as adults and their families, alike, should benefit fully from guidance made possible with authorized Federal funds, to the extent of present law. With adequate legal monitoring, through notice and reporting, adults, children and their family members may not, not disclose, fully, the factual circumstances resulting in their compromised living situation. For, such difficulty is often a result of criminal activity that proceeds sexual abuse. Only, with adequate disclosure, discussion and remedy will Federally funded family planning guidance be effective.

          The Department’s amendment of 42 C.F.R. Part 59 places the burden of compliance upon the funded provider which must possess adequate procedures for meeting the requirements of relevant State and Local law as a precondition of funding approval. And, this achieves the Department’s purpose of providing for minors and vulnerable populations upon whom the burden would never lie. Perhaps, the Department need only expand this protection to require funded family counselors to apprize State and Local governing officials of all suspected criminal activity within personal relationships, to the extent permitted or required by law.

          I thank you greatly for considering my comments on this rule. And, I may certainly be contacted as indicated above.

Sincerely,

Lori G. Nuckolls

Lori G. Nuckolls

Philosophy, Law and Politics

Greenspace and Culture for All!

The Cincinnati park of Burnet Woods is a wonderful asset of the Cincinnati community, and has been so since first begun in 1872. And, our community is obligated to both maintain and transition this park into a modern greenspace. Cincinnatians and learned science professionals, together, should discuss and decide the proper changes to Burnet Woods and Cincinnati’s greenspaces, generally. The current proposal for two community center buildings in Burnet Woods brings to popular discussion an issue not yet mentioned that is less related to concerns of environmental preservation. Specifically, the proposal to place a building within Burnet Woods that would essentially serve the current purposes of the Clifton Cultural Arts Center asks questions about equal planning for our various neighborhoods in Cincinnati.

Currently, the Clifton center provides cultural events and educational resources to those beyond the neighborhood of Clifton. Many young and old within Cincinnati would like to continue to rely upon the center. And, its location in Burnet Woods would have to be generally accessible by car and school bus. For, it is unlikely that it would be as currently within reach of those visiting by foot from nearby.  But, more importantly, the center would place on public land a resource generally needed, yet unavailable, in most neighborhoods. The Clifton center arose from the needs and requests of one Cincinnati neighborhood. And, it has ably done so. Yet, a similar cultural resource has been long discussed and requested by many neighborhoods similarly in need, including the neighborhood of Ohio Representative Alicia Reece, namely Bond Hill.

Most neighborhoods would not be provided for by the arts center proposed for Burnet Woods. Before the Burnet Woods center is approved, we have an obligation to discuss providing access to cultural arts equally within the city. It is unlikely and unwise that each neighborhood community requesting such a center could request a similar grant of land to do so by the Cincinnati Park Board. The Burnet Woods proposal is not properly precedent, or ratio decidendi.

The discussion of providing beyond the neighborhood recreation centers is a difficult one, and neighborhoods such as Bond Hill have long puzzled the question of transitioning an aged commercial business district for modern use. A small cultural center was proposed for an area near the intersection of Reading Road and California Avenue. It would have been similar to the current centers in Kennedy Heights and Pleasant Ridge. Perhaps it, alone, would not have completely sufficed. Yet when does capitalism not permit trial and error of not-for-profit ventures as for our for-profit, start-up entrepreneurial ones. Essentially, the Burnet Woods center only initiates review and discussion obligatorily within the purview of our discussion of fair and equal neighborhood planning.

For our neighborhoods stymied as to a beginning, even a small urban gardening space, such as one upon a space near the proposed cultural center in Bond Hill, would begin discussion with a venture not requiring a permanent decision or commitment, and which, even if only short term, would ameliorate an available space.

Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.