Bishops say no, abortion advocates say yes to bill taking more rights away from parents
Published: June 7, 2011
A bill opposed by California’s bishops that would permit children as young as 12 years old to consent to medical treatment to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases – including vaccinations – has passed the State Assembly and is now pending in the Senate.
The bill, AB 499, would permit children 12 years and up to bypass their parents and agree on their own to vaccinations and other means to prevent them from being infected by a sexually-transmitted disease.
“The California Catholic Conference writes that this bill is dangerous because it expands a faulty law which assumes that children know better than their parents, rather than assuming that parents know their children and care about their health,” says a legislative analyst’s review of the bill for the Assembly. “The California Catholic Conference states there are occasions when a minor child is mistreated or abandoned by his or her parents, but it is not the usual case; and that though contingency plans are good when parents are irresponsible, they should not be standard operating procedure.”
Also weighing in against the bill is the California Right to Life Committee, which, said the legislative analyst, “writes that this bill would have the citizen, voter, and taxpayer believe that 12 year olds can be their own medical advisors instead of relying on their own parents.”
Lining up in favor of the bill, among other groups, are the California National Organization for Women, NARAL-Pro-Choice California, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project of Los Angeles County, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, the Reproductive Justice Coalition, and Women’s Health Specialists, a group that traces its origins to the feminist movement and operates a chain of abortion clinics.
The bill, says the California group Catholics for the Common Good, “will surely pass unless parents mobilize to protect their rights and the rights of their children to have the benefit of their parents’ loving counsel concerning treatment that effects children’s health and welfare.”
“This bill is an attempted end-run, after a failed attempt by the drug company Merck, to make vaccinations for human papilloma virus, an STD, mandatory for girls attending school in 2007,” said Catholics for the Common Good in a June 2 statement. “The bill was eventually withdrawn because of opposition over the uncertainty of the long-term effects, possible reactions with serious consequences, and moral objections based on the cynical message the vaccine sends to children.”