A new Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) law in California gives children ages 12 or older the right to seek and obtain preventative treatment absent parental consent. Among these preventative treatments is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunization for cervical cancer. The dangers of contracting HPV has become more and more known, especially regarding younger and younger children. According to the New York Times, new research has found that through HPV transmissions, oral sex can cause throat cancer. So, now, to get preventative treatment all a minor age 12 or older needs is to find a way to get to the doctor or clinic.
Does the state have the authority to take a minor’s sexual health decisions out of the hands of parents? Hopefully the Supreme Court will get to review this legislation in the near future. The California law seems to be at odds with generally accepted principles of family privacy. California may have interfered with parental rights to the care, custody, and control of their child. There are striking similarities between the new California law and the ever-controversial debate regarding a woman’s right to choose abortion.
Minors already have the right to get diagnosis and treatment for STD’s without parental consent. This law protects minors who wouldn’t be able to ask their parents for consent to get preventative STD treatment (which is probably most minors); the law allows minors to make a decision not only about their sex life, but also about their own personal safety. Minors who do this without their parent’s consent are nonetheless acting responsibly, right? Should minors need parental consent for STD prevention? Should parents know when their children get treatment to prevent STD’s? Do children have the mental capacity to decide whether to obtain a certain controversial vaccine that is relatively new to the market?
Be sure to check out the comments about this law by members of the public at the bottom of the news article linked above.