Policy & Politics

Minnesota GOP: Let Parents Know When Kids Seek Care

April 21, 2011

If a new Republican-backed proposal passes the Legislature, Minnesota would become the only state to prevent minors from seeking STD services without parental approval, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie) is sponsoring the measure, which would require parental consent for minors seeking treatment for STDs, pregnancy, or drug or alcohol abuse. The state's current, 40-year-old law prevents doctors from disclosing medical information to parents unless the patient agrees or the condition is life-threatening. Under the proposal, parents could also access their children's medical records.

"It seems if you talk to any parent, most would assume they have the right to know about the medical condition of their child," said Hann. "I think it's a surprise to find out that we don't."

Guttmacher, which tracks sexual and reproductive health issues and opposes parental notification requirements, said no state currently blocks minors from seeking contraceptives without consent, though some have minimum age requirements. Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia allow confidential prenatal care or place slight conditions on it, the institute said. Thirteen states have no laws regarding minor care; in these states, doctors typically rely on recommendations from their respective medical associations, most of which support minors' right to consent to treatment, said Elizabeth Nash, a Guttmacher public policy associate.

Aggie Leitheiser, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health, said the bill could lead to higher rates of STDs, unintended pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, premature births or other complications, and long-term health problems from untreated conditions -- thereby driving up health care costs.

The bill was approved by a Senate committee but lacks a companion House measure, making passage unlikely.

Back to other news for April 2011

Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.17.2011; Tara Bannow

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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