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Archive for Friday, September 23, 2011

Calif. bill would allow minors to seek STD prevention without parental consent

September 23, 2011

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— Heated debate in the Republican presidential race over child vaccinations also is playing out in California as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown considers whether to a sign a bill allowing children as young as 12 to get vaccinated against sexually transmitted diseases without their parents’ consent.

Religious leaders, pro-family organizations and GOP lawmakers have warned the change would erode the rights of parents to be involved in their children’s medical decisions. Supporters say the legislation is needed to keep up with new prevention treatments and help slow the spread of STDs among minors.

The bill passed the California Legislature along mostly party lines and now is on Brown’s desk. He has until Oct. 9 to act on AB499, and has not signaled his intent.

Currently, California minors are allowed to seek diagnosis and treatment for STDs such as the human papillomavirus, known as HPV, without parental consent but cannot get vaccinated without their parents’ approval. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer.

“I don’t think we should be playing Russian roulette with kids’ lives,” said Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego who authored the legislation.

Opponents say the push for inoculation by medical officers and women’s health advocates tramples on parents’ rights. Just as minors cannot get a tattoo or piercing without parental approval under California law, opponents say parents should be involved in a child’s medical care, whether it’s treatment for a migraine or sexually transmitted disease.

“Our children need the knowledge and wisdom of their parents in order to make complicated medical decisions,” wrote Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in an online newsletter. “This legislation would leave our children to make these decisions without the benefit of their parents’ wisdom.”

Although the California bill was introduced back in February, vaccinating minors became a hot national topic recently when Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry for issuing a 2007 executive order mandating the HPV vaccine for young girls.

That mandate was overturned by Texas lawmakers, but Perry said during a GOP debate that supporting the vaccinations means supporting life.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. According to the bill’s author, HPV has become the world’s second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. It was blamed for more than 400 deaths in California in 2008, the latest year for which statistics are available.

Two vaccines are available. One is licensed as Gardasil by Merck and the other is Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. They are most effective if given before a person becomes sexually active.

If Brown signs into law, minors also would be able to get other STD prevention treatments, including new medicines that help prevent HIV infection if given within 72 hours of exposure.

Comments

Reta Cosby 3 years, 2 months ago

Twelve year olds can get STDs, but can't drive, get license, buy cigarettes or liquor, and must go to school. Something's terribly wrong with this picture. Check the authorities over these kids to see who's putting them in jeopardy of contracting these diseases. Twelve years old?! Come on now! If kids this young are getting STDs, Child Welfare need to be part of the Budget Cuts.

George_Braziller 3 years, 2 months ago

Yes a 12 year old can get an STD. Doesn't mean anyone is putting them in jeopardy, it's just reality that kids are going to be sexually active. An 18 year old with an STD has sex with a 17 year old, who then passes it onto a 16 year old who then has sex with a 15 year old, etc.

If you were 14, sexually active and wanted to be tested would you go to your mom or dad to ask for a permission note? I don't think so.

I'd rather have my kid be tested for an STD and treated for it than have him or her just pass it onto someone else without even knowing they had an STD.

George_Braziller 3 years, 2 months ago

I lost my virginity at Boy Scout camp when I was 13. I edited that part out of how camp went after I got home and my parents asked how things went.

ljwhirled 3 years, 2 months ago

Everyone has a RIGHT to protect themselves from diseases (and violence) regardless of age.

It is a natural right and is not given by man. The right to self defense is even recognized in animals.

According to Amnesty International there are 2,500 individuals in the United States serving sentences of life without parole for crimes committed when they were under 18.

Old enough to serve life without parole, old enough to get medical advice and intervention to prevent disease.

ljwhirled 3 years, 2 months ago

The primary roll of government, as seen by the Thomas Jefferson and his Republican allies, is to protect the rights of the individual.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 2 months ago

One of the assumptions we make as a society is that the parent is the person best able to make decisions for their children. Certainly there are exceptions. But in general, the parent needs all the tools at their disposal to make good decisions for their children. Information is the greatest tool I can think of. Children getting medical treatment is something all parents should know about, with only those rare exceptions where courts may rule that it's not in the child's best interest. Getting treated for an STD, or any other medical procedure is part of the issue. Prevention of further dangers should also be included. How can any parent prevent what they are not informed of? If it were my 12 year old, yes, I would want him/her treated. But I would also need to know how this came to be so that I can prevent it from happening again.

George_Braziller 3 years, 2 months ago

You're making a lot of assumptions about how kids interact and communicate with their parents or guardians.

Do you remember what it's like to be 12 or 13?

Now image going to your mom or dad and tell them that you think you might have an STD and want to be tested.

It's NOT going to happen.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 2 months ago

The question I have is this, is my 12 or 13 year old having sex with another 12 or 13 year old, in which case I might have a certain conversation with my child. Or is my 12 or 13 year old daughter having sex with my 38 year old boyfriend, in which I will be having several different conversations.
The assumption I'm making is that once my child comes into contact with another responsible adult, be they in the medical field, public health, education, or just a concerned person, that adult should assume I'm the best person to deal with this situation and inform me. Now if they have specific information that I as the parent am not the best qualified, then those in law enforcement, education, public health, etc. have means at their disposal to bypass parental notification. But the first assumption should be giving me, the parent the information I need to make the best decisions for my child.

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