A Good Example of a Bad Idea

The Yuma Sun, an Arizona newspaper, reports that Arizonan Senators have approved a bill that will require the consent of all least one parent for minors to obtain birth control prescriptions or treatment for STDs/STIs (as well as any prescription). Additionally, the bill imposes similar restrictions on mental health screening or treatment and articulates that parental consent is required for student to attend sex education courses.

The Yuma Sun article references SB 1305, but indeed, it is SB 1309, passed on March 22, 16-13.

Let’s consider the good that this bill will do.

First of all, some young people will not be able to attend sexual education classes due to their parents’ beliefs. That will result in a less sexually educated teen population.

Then, those young people who are trying to take responsibility for their own health, will be unable to do so.

As is often the case, exceptions can be made for “emergency situations.” However, why must teens wait until a crisis to receive medical care?

Let’s just say I am seventeen and sexually active. I want to go on birth control so I don’t get pregnant. However, my parents must be contacted for permission. They don’t believe I should be sexually active. They beat the shit out of me. Alternatively, I don’t tell my parents, I don’t get the prescription, and I get pregnant.

Or, let’s just say I was raped by my father and exposed to an STI. It’s a horrible scenario, but it happens. I need treatment as a result, both medical and psychological. A parent must consent. My mom is dead. Dad’s not going to consent to something that is his own fault, risking getting himself in legal trouble. I’m screwed, unless it’s ruled an “emergency situation” defined “for the treatment of a serious disease of injury or drug abuse, or to save the life of the patient.”

Yes, these are horrible examples. Yes, we should encourage young people to wait until they are mature and responsible to have sex. Yes, it would be fantastic if all children can have an open and loving relationship with their parents.

However, things happen. Teenagers have sex. Not all parents are good. Can’t we at least let teenagers take some responsibility for their own health when they decide it is necessary? Isn’t that an adult behavior we should encourage?

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