Confidentiality laws protect minor’s health choices

California’s confidentiality laws are protecting girls across the state from abuse, disease and jeopardizing their future.

By Layla Williams, Staff Writer

In California a 12-year-old girl is able to have an abortion without parental consent. 

Under the California Minor Consent and Confidentiality laws, minors have the authority to consent to medical services without their parents knowing. They are eligible for other medical services that would otherwise require parental approval. 

Abortions are common with teen girls who are enrolled in school. Raising a child is a big responsibility, and having a baby means learning to balance taking care of yourself while also attending to the needs of your child. Financial stability and a strong support system are crucial to raising a child. 

But the sad reality is that not every teen would have these things if they brought a child into this world.

It’s common for teenage girls to be fearful and hesitant to reveal their pregnancy to their parents, especially when they are strict parents with personal beliefs that conflict with those of their pregnant child.

A pro-life parent probably would not allow their daughter to terminate a pregnancy — even if she wanted. Such a parent would make her keep the baby. Other parents might be unsupportive, reacting in an abusive way by kicking the daughter out. A teen in this situation is lucky if she finds a place to stay after being turned away by her parents. 

In California, such unfortunate situations are being prevented by the new law. If a minor is sure that carrying out a pregnancy could place themselves or their child in a position of danger, they have every right to terminate the pregnancy without parental consent. 

When a teen gets pregnant, she needs support. She is often confused and frustrated. She fears how others will react. She may have just made a mistake. 

The new law is also important because sexual education for teens is often lacking. A former LAUSD health teacher said that most of his students didn’t understand how their own bodies worked and were unable to even label their sex organs.

Out of all 50 states, only 13 states require sexual education to be medically accurate. However, the definition of the term varies and depends on the school district’s curriculum. Teens are miseducated – and even completely uneducated – about sexual activity but in California the law gives them some protection. 

Laws around the country should be redefined so schools can accurately teach sex education. 

And no, telling a child to remain abstinent forever does not count as “the talk” or sex-ed.

When parents have an accurate, nonjudgmental “talk” with their children, it signals that a child confronted with these situations can be comfortable talking to their parents instead of seeking their own answers. 

Educating their own children about the outcomes of being sexually active instead of using the “stay abstinent” fear tactic might persuade a teenager to be safe and make responsible choices.  

If not, California’s Consent and Confidentiality law might help save their lives.