New York legislation currently sitting with the state’s Standing Committee on Health proposes granting minors medical autonomy for a sweeping range of medical decisions and procedures.
“Any person, including a minor, who comprehends the need for, the nature of, and the reasonably foreseeable risks and benefits involved in any contemplated medical, dental, health, or hospital service, as well as any alternatives thereto, may give effective consent thereto for themself, and the consent of no other person shall be necessary,” says bill A9963.
This autonomy also applies to any “runaway youth” or “homeless youth.”
The legislation was sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and co-sponsored by Assemblywomen Amy Paulin, Maritza Davila, Jo Anne Simon and Karines Reyes.
The bill makes a point of directing state agencies to offer sexual health care to foster children.
“An authorized agency as defined in this title shall offer age and developmentally appropriate reproductive and sexual health care services and information to all foster children who are or may be sexually active or who request such services or information through the agency’s case-worker contact and as part of the comprehensive service plan for each child.
“Such an offer may be made orally to the child as long as it is also made in writing, by means of a letter or brochure designed for this purpose.”
Children will also make their own decisions when it comes to vaccines.
“A child who may give effective consent . . . may give effective consent to their own immunization, and the consent of no other person shall be necessary.”
As stated in the bill, a child may also choose to be medicated and make autonomous decisions regarding medication management, which the text refers to as “outpatient mental health services.” A mental health practitioner can provide these services to a child especially when a parent or guardian has refused to give consent, or if the practitioner decides that involving the parent or guardian is a bad idea.
“A mental health practitioner may provide outpatient mental health services . . . to a minor voluntarily seeking such services without parental or guardian consent if the mental health practitioner determines that . . . requiring parental or guardian consent or involvement would have a detrimental effect on the course of outpatient treatment; or a parent or guardian has refused to give such consent and a [physician] practitioner determines that treatment is necessary and in the best interests of the minor.”
Furthermore, a child must be notified if there has been a request to view his/her medical records, which the child may refuse to disclose, even to their parent or guardian.
The text of the bill also makes use of the term “infant”, which legally means a minor.
“A patient or client [over the age of twelve] SHALL be notified of any request by a qualified person to review [his/her] THEIR record and if the patient or client objects to disclosure, the facility, in consultation with the treating practitioner may deny the request.
“In no event may a facility, practitioner, or treating practitioner disclose clinical records pertaining to treatment an infant patient or client consented to themself to the infant’s parent or guardian without the minor’s authorization. An infant patient or client may consent to disclosure to their parent or guardian generally or only in an emergency or may withhold consent all together.”
If the bill passes the Standing Committee on Health, it will be put to a floor vote in the Senate and Assembly.