I got a letter last week from our doctor’s office (where I used to be a partner) telling us that Mr. Math Tutor and I will no longer be able to access Wild Man’s medical records from the computer as of the first of May when he turns 12 years old. The reason is that when he turns twelve, the law in our state is that parents are no longer allowed to access the parts of the medical records pertaining to sexual or reproductive health issues. When the medical records were made available to patient’s families online, it was decided that the parent’s proxies would be revoked when the child became of an age that any part of the record became legally private because it is too difficult to try to allow the parents online access to just part of the record. (I was still working when that was all sorted out.) If we want to see part of our child’s record, we have to go into the office, where they will show us the parts of his record we’re allowed to see. I vaguely remember this happening when Rosie Girl turned 12.
But, folks, HE’S 12!!!!! The state has decided that my children can get medical advice and treatment without my consent as long as it’s related to their reproductive organs. So, they wouldn’t be able to get treatment with an antibiotic for an ear infection, but they’d be able to get the same antibiotic if it was for a sexually transmitted infection. And the physician wouldn’t be able to have the parents in to discuss the behavior that got the kid the sexually transmitted infection in the first place. Girls all over the country are getting birth control pills (with all the potential side effects) and their parents may or may not know about it. They can get abortions in many states without their parents’ knowing about it. But, they can’t get an ibuprofen in school.
Does anyone else see the psychosis here? We’ve decided that CHILDREN should be able to make their own decisions about the parts of their body that can have some of the most serious long term consequences!!! Early sexual activity can lead to pregnancy, infection, infertility, and cancer. And many studies show that parental involvement is the most important factor in kids’ making health choices. So, why are we taking the parents out of the equation? I don’t know. (When I was working, I told families that I didn’t prescribe medications to teens without parental consent. I did insist on keeping conversations private, but I wouldn’t give treatment to a minor without their parent knowing about it. If a minor wanted to get something behind their parents’ backs, they could go to the County or another physician.)
However, the Christian community is guilty of this kind of attitude as well. Parents get freaked out by the idea that their child might hear something about birth control in high school sex ed and make sure the student gets pulled out of that class period. We’ve elevated abstinence-only education to the level of Scripture. And we act as if sexual sins are unforgivable. The Evangelical Church has become sex-obsessed in many very unhealthy ways. What started as a response to try to help kids navigate our over-sexed culture has become an obsession on purity to the level that there’s very little real, honest information out there about healthy sexuality.
How is a teen supposed to navigate the hormone-laden years in a Godly way? I’m afraid we’ve focused so much on the external (not having sex) that we’re losing what’s truly important – nurturing a relationship with Jesus. And it’s that relationship with Jesus that gets us through temptation, not the gritting-our-teeth-willpower. As a parent of a teen, I talk with my kids about sex, marriage, the importance of waiting till marriage, etc. But, I’m mostly trying to encourage them to love Jesus. And I’m praying a lot.
This sex obsession in our society is not helping anyone. I do know that my kids are not old enough to make any medical decisions on their own, but I hope and pray that they trust me and Mr. Math Tutor enough to confide in us no matter what they’re facing, even if it does involve their reproductive organs. Right now, we are all very close so I’m not worried about this crazy law. It’s a good reminder to keep praying, though, and not just for my kids, but for our whole community.