HB 1454 - Parental Rights

One of the bills I see worthy of the most debate and discussion for 2010 is HB 1454 "Requiring parental consent for medical procedures and medications provided to minors".

The analysis of this bill reads as follows:

This bill requires the consent of a parent or guardian for any person to provide medication or provide or perform any medical procedure, including vaccinations, immunizations, and abortions upon any unemancipated minor, except in a medical emergency. A minor may seek court approval for such medication or procedure, if the minor elects not to seek consent or does not receive the consent of a parent or guardian. Any person who violates such a law shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Abortions aside, because that can and has been a topic in and of itself, those I have discussed this bill with see it from two points of view and I would hope our lawmakers look at it with an open mind and see the validity of both sides regardless of their views.

While I support the bill those I have discussed it with who disagree with it all look at it through the view of older minors, and I must admit they do raise good points against it.  In NH state laws allow for girls who are still minors at 16 to legally have sex with other 16 year olds.  Based on the below quoted section of the bill it would become illegal for a 16 year old to engage in safe sex legally because the birth control device could fall under the medication clause.

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no medication or medical procedure shall be performed or provided, including dentistry, vaccinations and immunizations, and abortions to or upon any unemancipated minor without the written consent of a parent or guardian of such minor, as provided in paragraphs II and III, except in the case of a medical emergency.

Personally however I do not see that as valid reason to shoot the bill down.  A condom should not be considered medication so teens can still engage in safe sex.

The older teens also have the options of petitioning in court if they wish a medical procedure and do not wish their parents to know or cannot get their parents consent.

If an unemancipated minor elects not to seek the consent or does not receive the consent of one of the minor’s parents or guardian, any judge of a court of competent jurisdiction shall, upon petition, or motion, and after an appropriate hearing, authorize the medication or medical procedure if the judge determines that the minor is mature and capable of giving informed consent to the proposed medication or procedure.

Another valid point is that a seventeen year old who works part time should be able to make the choice for themselves if they want to be able to purchase aspirin or even medicated chapstick which technically could fall under "medication".

I suggest though, flaws above aside, this bill be looked at from the point of view of the parent and consider not the older teens who would also fall into this bill but younger kids.  Is an eight year old able to make an informed choice of whether or not they should have a pain pill? 

If you were a parent would you support a teacher perhaps convincing your child that they need to be on Ritalin without your consent or approval?  Think it can't happen?  It did in NY.

In the most extreme cases, parents unwilling to give their kids drugs are being reported by their schools to local offices of Child Protective Services, the implication being that by withholding drugs, the parents are guilty of neglect.

At least two families with children in schools near Albany, N.Y., recently were reported by school officials to local CPS offices when the parents decided, independently, to stop giving their children medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. (The parents of one student pulled him from school; the others decided to put their boy back on medication so that he could continue at his school.)

A parent should be the first most authority over what is best for his or her own children.  This bill acknowledges that and should be supported on those grounds.  I hope to see it get the level of discussion it deserves and if properly amended this bill could be a very good thing for parental rights.