N. Carolina: Want an STD Test? Get Notarized Note From Parents

RALEIGH, N.C.—North Carolina doesn't exactly have a sterling record when it comes to dealing with sex. In 2006, for example, 56 percent of the 193,500 pregnancies among the state's women were unplanned, and 74 percent of the births resulting from those unintended pregnancies were paid for by the state. One possible reason for so many unintended kids is that in order for a minor to get an abortion in the state, she has to get at least one parent's consent—and then there's the fact that abortion providers are required to counsel—that is, lie to—women about the risks of breast cancer from abortion, about the risks of "mental illness" far beyond post-partum depression and several other myths designed to impel her to decide not to abort. And if that doesn't work, all doctors and medical facilities in the state are allowed to refuse the abortion on "moral grounds."

If that sounds a little backward for the Real World of 2013 ... it's about to get a bit worse.

On Tuesday, a committee of North Carolina's House of Representatives approved HB 693, which would rewrite General Statute 90-21.7 to prohibit any licensed physician in the state from performing an abortion on an unemancipated minor without that minor's express written consent, and would for the first time require that the physician also obtain a notarized written consent to the procedure from the child's parent or guardian, or from a grandparent if the minor has lived with him/her for at least six months.

Obtaining parental consent for a minor's abortion is no longer very rare, though very few states require that that consent be notarized—but even that's not the big news in this bill.

A newly created section (a1) to the law reads, "Except as prohibited by federal law, unless a parent or legal guardian or legal custodian of an unemancipated minor is present with the unemancipated minor and gives consent, no health care provider duly licensed in the State of North Carolina, or agent thereof, shall provide health care services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of (i) sexually transmitted diseases, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, (ii) abuse of controlled substances or alcohol, (iii) mental illness, or (iv) pregnancy unless the health care provider or agent thereof, or another health care provider or agent thereof, first obtains the written consent of the minor and the notarized written consent of any one of the following," which once again includes the child's parent or guardian, or grandparent with whom the child has lived for six months or more.

Got that? If you're a kid in North Carolina and this bill passes, you can't even get an STD test, treatment for an STD, contraception, or treatment for drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness unless your guardian agrees to it—with a notarized letter of consent!

According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Chris Whitmire (Guess Which Party), the reason for all this notarization is to prevent recurrence of any of these "problems" by getting the kid's parents and/or guardians involved, but as ThinkProgress.com journalist Tara Culp-Ressler points out, "not every teen lives in a family that has healthy lines of communication, and the policy could be disastrous for minors in abusive households."

D'ya think?!?

"Here's the bottom line: Everybody wants teenagers to talk to their parents, but public policy is not based on ideal families," said Paige Johnson, VP of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. "What if there's something happening in the home, some kind of abuse going on? If teenagers can't talk to their parents for whatever reason about their pregnancy or their STD or their substance abuse, they need to be able to access professional care."

Several doctors and other healthcare professionals testified against the bill, and no wonder: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have established that half of all new sexually transmitted infections in North Carolina occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24, though it's unclear what proportion of those affect the 15-18 demographic.

Also, a recent poll by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina found that parents overwhelmingly support giving minors full acccess to confidential medical services—including 93 percent of the state's Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Independents.

The full (Republican-controlled) House hasn't voted on HB 693 yet, but it is expected to pass when they do, at which time it goes to the (Republican-controlled) Senate, where its future is likewise bright—and likely to continue to be so when it comes to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory for signature.

If AHF doesn't feel like helping California's sexually active prisoners, maybe they can take time from their busy schedule to campaign against HB 693 in North Carolina.