Local News

Proposed restrictions on teen medical care spark debate

Posted May 8, 2013

— Area parents said Wednesday that they are torn over legislation that would require parental approval for a range of medical treatments sought by teens.

House Bill 693 would require notarized written approval from a parent before a doctor or other provider could diagnose, treat or even counsel anyone under 18 for mental health or substance abuse. Parental approval would also be required for contraception, pregnancy care and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

The bill, which was to be debated by the full House Wednesday afternoon, was removed from the calendar and sent to the House Judiciary Committee for more review.

Proponents said the legislation strengthens parental rights to determine how best to meet their children's medical needs.

"Involving parents in these important health care decisions is a vital part of restoring the fundamental right of parents," said Jere Royall, a lawyer for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. "When you're trying to look at important health care decisions, should parents be involved? That's what this law is helping to reinforce."

Physician groups say the measure could discourage teens from seeking medical or psychological help that could save their lives. They might not feel comfortable talking to their parents about an issue like a sexually transmitted disease, or they might be in an abusive situation at home, opponents said.

Physician office, doctor generic Bill pits parental rights against teens' medical needs

"There's a concern that all North Carolinians really should be worried about our teens and how to keep our teens as healthy as possible," said Dr. Peter Morris, a Raleigh pediatrician. "In previous years, the General Assembly has realized that the need to ensure teens timely access to the appropriate health care is something that should be protected by statute."

Parents said they see both sides of the issue and have a hard time deciding which side to take.

"I'm a little torn," Brandy Edwards said. "It's going to prevent children from getting the care that they would get or prolong the care, but then I'm also for the family. ... I definitely would want to know what's going on with my children as soon as possible."

The bill would also extend to pharmacists, who would be unable to dispense any medication used to treat any of the subject conditions without the presence or notarized permission of the parent.

Because federal law requires strict confidentiality in the provision of medical care and bans age discrimination against minors, providers who get Title X or Medicaid funds would not be subject to the parental consent requirement. That would include most community health centers, county health departments and Planned Parenthood.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Whatthehey May 9, 2013

    WRAL needs a special column to highlight the bizarre, medieval bills coming daily our of our Repub legislature. Why nothing about this one?
    Senate Bill 132 [PDF] requires that seventh grade students be taught that abortion is one of the significant risk factors that could cause a woman to have pre-mature deliveries later in life as part of the state’s sex ed program. Much of the debate surrounding the bill centers around the validity of scientific studies that suggest a connection. UNC School of Medicine Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr. David Grimesquestioned the committee, “The World Health Organization, the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Public Health Association all have uniformly concluded that abortion does not cause prematurity. How did they all get it wrong?”

  • samr May 9, 2013

    I have never heard of anyone, lib or con, making fun of Sarah Palin's son but anyone who does has a definite lack of class, like Ann Coulter with her recent comment.

    Crumps --- Both libs and cons are full of people who live by double standards. No one group has that market cornered.

  • Road-wearier May 9, 2013

    "Maybe Bev should have doled out a few more freebies then you would still be in charge."

    And McCrory's doling out freebies to Duke Power and the GOP's other corporate welfare mothers so that HE can stay in power. What's the difference?

  • Grand Union May 9, 2013

    "Did you know if your 10 year old says no I don't want Mom or Dad to be in the exam room you are not allowed to go in."

    and you really don't know why that is?????? Never heard of child abuse and Incest?

  • Grand Union May 9, 2013

    "Just as classy as the libs who make fun of Sarah Palins son who has Downs Syndrome. "

    Who are these libs? can you link to them?....

  • madeuce2010 May 9, 2013

    "MADEUCE,Read the bill again, It only requires notarization IF the parent allows the child to go to the Doctor on their own, Not when the parent is present. GET IT!!! babedan"

    So a 16 year old who can drive themselves to the doc for their mental health treatment still has to have NOTARIZED parental consent. GET IT??

  • Crumps Br0ther May 9, 2013


    Just as classy as the libs who make fun of Sarah Palins son who has Downs Syndrome. Those folks are just oozing with class. More liberal double standards, it doesnt even surprise me anymore

  • Crumps Br0ther May 9, 2013

    whats imagined or hypothetical about teens getting pregnant or an STD???? Or or the resultant infertility or suicide rate? now if can just show as much evidence for guns saving lives and show that they save more lives than the cost..............
    Grand Union


  • Not_So_Dumb May 9, 2013

    Also, babedan, if the article is correct, this bill says nothing about general physical exams so your example is not going to be fixed. Furthermore, HIPAA is a federal statute so I am not sure what that has to do with this state law. You are trying to make this into something it is not. What this is is an attempt to legislate a certain view of morality through fear of consequence.

    Doesn't matter to me. My kids will have a notarized letter from me that they can take anywhere so if they are truly in crisis, they can get treatment first and figure out how to tell me about it later.

  • Not_So_Dumb May 9, 2013

    babedan - I understand the way the law works. I protects those children that need protection at the expense of some problems to certain parents. I am OK with that tradeoff as I believe that the law is supposed to act most strongly on behalf of those who have little strength of their own.

    No law is perfect, I just think that the current compromises work far better than this does. I would rather my kids tell me no than a doctor be forced to turn away a child in crisis.