Big O tells the truth about teen health care decisions

Again and again, the proponents of Measure 43 (the parental notification measure) suggest that parents have the right to direct every aspect of their teenage daughters lives. Check this statement out from the absurdly-named

Currently, Oregon law assures that a parent is responsible for their child’s welfare in every other situation—tattoos, ear piercing, school field trips, taking an aspirin—but they can get an abortion without a parent ever knowing.

But the Oregonian made the truth crystal clear. In an editorial:

Under Oregon law, children need parental consent for nearly all medical treatment. By adolescence, however, the rules begin to change. Minors of any age can seek confidential birth control. Those who become pregnant can decide on their own to give birth and keep their babies or place them for adoption.

By age 14, teenagers can be treated for mental health problems or drug addictions without parental involvement. By age 15, teenagers are considered old enough to consent to nearly all medical care, including HIV testing and treatment, dental work, hospital care, surgery and abortion.

That's right, folks. By age 15, teens can consent to all kinds of medical care. And the Oregonian helpfully points out that doctors still have the right to notify parents when necessary:

In fact, doctors are explicitly empowered to talk to parents without the patient's consent "whenever the disclosure is clinically appropriate and will serve the best interests of the minor's treatment"

But, that's a medical decision. Why? Because sometimes it's a bad thing to talk to the parents.

But there's a reason why parental involvement is encouraged rather than required: In some cases, the requirement can harm the patient. Decades of research into adolescent behavior have shown that teenagers (much like adults) will delay or avoid getting help for sensitive medical issues when they fear getting exposed or judged for their condition.

With pregnancy, when every week counts, this is the biggest health risk of parental-notification laws.

Measure 43 offers one concession to teenage girls who are ashamed or fear a violent reaction at home. These girls can request a hearing with the state and plead their case before an administrative judge. This option isn't acceptable. No one in Oregon should be required to beg a state bureaucrat for medical care.

Read the rest. Discuss.

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  • (Show?)

    I thought it was a compelling editorial, and hopefully a few voters will read it and follow its advice.

    Perhaps a follow-up editorial will build on this excerpt:

    "Sponsors say the measure is necessary to close what they characterize as an abortion loophole: They say abortion has a unique status in Oregon as the one thing teenagers can do without their parents' knowledge or consent. This claim is false. The laws governing minors, parents and health care tell a more accurate story."

    They could more forcefully make the point:

    "Backers of Measure 43 are going beyond distortions and resorting to outright lies to attempt to pass it. It's inexcusable -- the backers are taking advantage of voters' limited attention and knowledge. They should be held accountable -- first, by the media, and second, by the voters."

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    Maybe it's time to start a new national support group called "Protect My Teenage Son From Sleazy Closeted Homosexual Republicans".

    Seems to be a wee bit of a problem among the Republicans who are WORKING SO HARD to keep us all safe.



  • (Show?)

    I respectfully suggested a more appropriate name for the Yes43 folks, elsewhere:

    "Committee to Protect Us From Deep Social Embarassment Over the Jezebellian Harlotry of Our Daughters"

  • TheT (unverified)

    Abortions are not Health Care.

  • (Show?)

    Come again, TheT? On what planet are they not?

  • (Show?)

    This is one of the measures that was an easy decision for me. My mom is a Democrat and is against abortion. When I talked to her yesterday, I explained the measure and she said she wouldn't want to close the door in cases of rape or incest. If I had to guess how she'll vote on this measure, it would be no.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    Jeez, you mean teenagers don't have to get parental permission to take an aspirin? They lied about that?

    For me it comes down to this: do we want to embrace a law that will add to the number of teenage mothers?

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    “For me it comes down to this: do we want to embrace a law that will add to the number of teenage mothers?”

    This is the only compelling argument I’ve heard for opposing measure 43. Children having children. And these teenage mothers are more likely to require social services, lack family support, have little education, and generally will not be able to provide a suitable environment to raise the child in.

    Yet we’re not hearing this argument made because of fear it will sound too draconian and will be attacked by 43 supporters.

    And that’s why 43 will pass in November.

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