A mother in Michigan took exception to a local hospital’s new policy requiring that a nurse would have a private conversation with her 17-year-old daughter.
Christy Duffy took her daughter to the hospital to have the girl’s injured foot examined. She was surprised to see a sign posted notifying her of the new policy that a nurse would need to “have a short 5 minute private conversation with your child.”
Duffy asked the receptionist about the policy. According to TheBlaze, the staffer told her the policy was in response to a new law and that there was no way to opt out of it.
Duffy left the hospital and wrote about the experience on her personal blog.
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“She said there was a new policy that would allow a child to access his/her medical records online and the child would be allowed to block a parent from viewing the website,” Duffy wrote of the information she received from hospital’s office manager.
What most concerned the mother was that hospital staff would be talking to her child privately about safe sex and ways to receive information about birth control.
“The nurse would also inform my children that the doctor's office is a safe place for them to receive information about STDs, HIV and birth control. That is what the nurse would be chatting about with my children without any pesky parental oversight,” Duffy wrote.
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Neither the story from TheBlaze nor Duffy’s blog indicate that the hospital workers cited the law that made the new policy possible.
According to Contracept.org, laws regarding the rights of minors to access contraceptives or safe-sex counseling vary widely from state to state. At least 25 states allow minors to consent to contraceptive services without a parent. Four states have no explicit policy on the matter.
A document published by the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative and posted on the Michigan government’s own website suggests that the laws within the state also vary. The document indicates that there are no state laws specifically addressing Duffy’s situation but that facilities in the state receiving federal funding for family planing services may provide counseling and contraceptives to minors without parental consent.