A few interesting things have come up in the discussion taking place on my blog about the California Proposition Results for 2008. Lila posted information about California Health and Safety Code 123450, and there are plenty of sources that point to the fact that the Supreme Court of California has ruled that minors in California have a right to health privacy, even from their parents.
First, I agree that people should be afforded a certain level of privacy, even minors. However, I see some very serious problems with this ruling about minor medical privacy. Not because of abortion rights but because of health concerns. Parents have a legal obligation to protect and provide for their children. Isn’t health and medical information important for a parent to provide for their child?
Second, how can a minor not consent to legal contracts but consent to medical services? A minor cannot get married, join the army, sign a contract at a gym, register to vote, sign credit applications, and a myriad of other contractual activities. However, a minor can walk in and get any medical service without parental consent? A minor can’t even purchase cigarettes, alcohol, or nyquil, but they can get any prescription from a doctor without parental consent?
Here is a scenario running through my head:
A son is injured badly in a car accident and the parents arrive at the hospital only to discover they are not allowed to know any information about their son’s well being. A little ridiculous, I know.
Or how about this one:
A daughter goes to a doctor and acquires birth control pills without parental consent and those birth control pills give her an ovarian cyst (not uncommon for many women on birth control).
Or maybe this one:
A son contracts tuberculosis while traveling abroad over the summer for a summer camp. A doctor provides treatment but the parents don’t have rights to that medical information. Tuberculosis is highly contagious and DEADLY (especially for the young and elderly).
In either of these cases, it seems logical that the parents should have a right to know medical information about their child, right?
So why did I vote no on Proposition 4? Proposition 4 was a ballot measure that put the decision making process of abortion into the hands of judges and creates more government were more government is not needed. We don’t need government mandating child-parent communication. Proposition 4 was also focused only on abortion. The issue should not be abortion. It should be parental rights to information that allows them to provide for and protect the wellbeing of their family.
What I would support is a Parent-Child Medical Rights Proposition. Not to make it a requirement for doctors to notify parents of medical treatments they are providing their children. Rather give parents the right to view their child’s medical records upon request AND sue doctors who have performed medical treatments where the parent had not given consent.
If a doctor wants to prescribe medication to a minor without notifying the parents, they can do that. But they should be open to malpractice lawsuits for providing medical services to a citizen who cannot enter into contractual agreements without parental/guardian consent.
Now, people will say what about the abusive parents scenario? Certainly, this is a major issue. Anyone (not just doctors) who becomes aware of abuse taking place against a child by their parents/family has an obligation to report it to law enforcement. If a doctor suspects (or a minor reports) abuse, law enforcement should be notified immediately.