Update: The House referred the bill to the Judiciary committee, where it will be heard on Thursday morning. The committee will examine more than 30 amendments to the bill and consider sending their version to the House again. If referred back to the House, it may be heard tomorrow afternoon.
Advocates on many issues - sexual health, mental health, abuse prevention, etc. - have been scrambling to help legislators understand the devastating impact of HB693, which would repeal a minor's ability to consent to certain medical services.
Since the 1970's, any person in North Carolina has had the ability to consent to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of pregnancy, STDs, mental illness, or substance abuse. The law excludes abortion, sterilization, and admission to a 24-hour facility, all of which require parental consent.
With the help of our minor's consent law, the state's teen pregnancy rate has dropped 58% and the teen abortion rate has dropped 74%. Parents overwhelmingly (83%) favor the current law.
If HB693 is enacted, a minor would need a notarized signature from a parent to get diagnosis, counseling or treatment for pregnancy, STDs, mental illness or substance abuse, as well as for abortion. (A NOTARIZED signature!) The bill also extends the law to pharmacists. Here are some scenarios that would exist under the law if this bill passes:
- A doctor would need notarized permission to ask a teen boy routine depression screening questions (Do you feel sad? Have you lost interest in activities? Have you considered suicide?)
- A pharmacist would need notarized permission each month to dispense a refill for birth control pills or Prozac.
- If a sexually active 17 year old went to Walgreens, and that store kept condoms under lock and key to prevent theft, the teen could get condoms if the cashier unlocked the case but would need notarized permission if the pharmacist kept the key.
- A doctor could see a female patient with a bulging belly who complains about missed periods, but would need notarized permission to ask "Are you pregnant?" or "Have you had unprotected sex?" or administer a pee test - because those things constitute diagnosis.
Here's what we know as pregnancy prevention experts: Teens rarely seek medical care - and almost never seek preventative care. That means that screening for health risks at sick visits is usually the only opportunity to get preventative care. For example, when a teen goes in for strep throat, it presents the only opportunity for a doctor to ask if he or she is sexually active. If this law passes, that screening and preventative care stops. Contraceptive use stops for teens who got care confidentially, and for those whose parents can't go for every appointment or prescription refill. Teen pregnancy and abortion rates go up.
You can make a difference by calling members of the House. Here's our fact sheet so you can see many of the reasons why we so strongly oppose this bill.