MN GOP’s bill, SF 1017, moves Minnesota from a ‘parental notification’ state to a ‘parental consent’ state – meaning that for a minor to obtain an abortion, they must obtain permission from their parents. There is an exception for incest, though only when raped by a relative nearer than a first cousin by blood and the victim would be forced to go in front of a judge and prove that incest occurred. The incest exception would NOT include step parents, step siblings or guardians and there is no exception for rape by a stranger. This bill effectively removes the judicial bypass mechanism implemented by Minnesota’s parental notification law, which enabled minors to obtain permission from a judge. This bill would not only force rape and many incest victims to confront their assailants to obtain permission for an abortion, they would have to obtain their permission for mental health counseling and other medical treatment.
SF 1017 will prevent youth from seeking health care services by removing the right to confidentiality. This right has been a cornerstone to improving the health of American teens.
Research from as far back as the late 1970s has highlighted the importance of confidentiality to teens’ willingness to seek care. Recent research confirms these original findings. For example, a study appearing in 1999 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that a significant percentage of teenagers had decided not to seek health care that they thought they needed due to confidentiality concerns. With respect to reproductive health care, specifically, a 2002 JAMA study found that almost half of sexually active teens (47%) visiting a family planning clinic would stop using clinic services if their parents were notified that they were seeking birth control, and another 11% reported that they would delay testing or treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV; virtually all (99%), however, reported that they would continue having sex.
In Minnesota, STI’s disproportionally affect teens and according to the American Medical Association parental consent and notification laws prevent teens from seeking health care, including STI testing, pregnancy testing, alcohol/drug counseling, and mental health counseling. Removing the right to privacy will not only prevent teens from accessing health care but will prevent health care providers from counseling teens on safe sex practices and guidance for talking to parents about sex.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that parental consent legislation does not increase family communication, but does increase the risk of harm to the adolescent by delaying access to medical care. An American Medical Association study shows that mandatory parental involvement laws result in delayed termination which also increases the risks associated with an abortion; however the adolescent mortality rate for continuing a pregnancy to term is more than 12 times greater than the mortality rate for abortion. Physicians agree that minors should be encouraged to discuss their health with their parents/guardians, but should not be forced in order to obtain care. Parental notification/consent laws have been shown to decrease adolescents’ likelihood of seeking health care and use of contraceptives by almost 50% – thus completing the circle – and increasing the rates of teen pregnancy.
The amended bill is not available currently but is expected to be folded into the HHS omnibus bill. MNCASA provides some linkes to take action.
(photo by Steve Greenberg’s Cartoons)