Parental Access Denied! NC Minors Able to Consent to Controversial Therapies - TribPapers

Parental Access Denied! NC Minors Able to Consent to Controversial Therapies

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Asheville – Can one imagine a four-year-old making his or her own decisions about medical treatments? This is possible in North Carolina right now because of a loophole in the Parents’ Bill of Rights (PBR), a bill that became law in August 2023. The loophole renders the PBR basically useless, giving NC children from the age of zero to eighteen the right to make their own medical decisions without parental knowledge or consent. This debate has things heating up in the NC House and Senate while lawmakers work to resolve this issue before the end of the short session in which they are currently engaged.

The Parents’ Bill of Rights was written to give parents access to educational records and to codify the right to “direct the upbringing and moral or religious training of his or her child.” The PBR affirms parent rights to make healthcare decisions for their child, requires schools to make policies to promote parental involvement, and requires principals to communicate with parents about textbooks, allowing parents to review materials used in class and establishing a process for parents to object to those materials. Finally, the PBR states that “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity shall not be included in the curriculum provided in grades kindergarten through third grade.”

An Old Law Caused the Loophole

But it seems no one caught the clause from an old 1970s law, meant for exceptional cases of child abuse, that created what is called a carve-out in the law. This carve-out gives children of any age consent for the prevention or treatment of communicable diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and vaccine preventable infections, pregnancy, substance abuse, and emotional disturbance. There is also immunity for doctors built into the law.

Health Freedom Groups Working To Remove Loophole

The NC Health Coalition, which includes the North Carolina Physicians for Freedom (NCPFF), the Health Empowerment Action League of North Carolina (HEAL NC), NC Family, Parents for Kids Health, and other health freedom groups, is trying to get the loophole removed but has met with resistance from certain members of the North Carolina legislature.

It Started With Hospitals Hiding Medical Records

Stand for Health Freedom’s website explains that “hospital systems are now using NC law to exclude parents from their children’s medical records (i.e., vaccines, psych medications, and other controversial therapies). The law presumes that minor children of any age, including children with developmental disabilities, have the ability to assess their own risk and the nuance of risk-benefit analysis with regard to their own health histories.

Supreme Court Decision On Minor Informed Consent

A 1979 Supreme Court ruling stated, “Most children, even in adolescence, simply are not able to make sound judgments concerning many decisions, including their need for medical care or treatment. Parents can and must make those judgments.”

Minor children are not legally allowed to vote, purchase alcohol or cigarettes, get a tattoo, or consent to other invasive medical procedures. It’s unethical to place the burden of medical decision-making on minors.

Do You Know What Drugs Your Children Are On?

Dianna Lightfoot, Policy Director of NC Physicians for Freedom, agrees with the Supreme Court’s findings. Lightfoot was a White House appointee to Global Health with USAID and shared that there is adolescent brain research data proving that children’s brains are not really developed enough to understand informed consent and the long-term consequences of making critical healthcare decisions.

Lightfoot also explained, “We learned that hospital systems were blocking parents’ access to their child’s records, as young as twelve. Lightfoot continued, “If they are getting antidepressants, contraceptives, or some other drug from their school or doctor, insurance is paying. Parents are not allowed to see what they’re paying for, but they’re held responsible.”

Lightfoot closed by saying, “We’re teaching children to keep secrets, teaching children not to trust their parents, and teaching them to lie by omission.”

In Some Cases the Law is Illegal

Beth Secosky, co-founder of HEAL NC, says that minors cannot be expected to give informed consent, which is an ethically required component of every medical treatment. Secosky said, “The law presents broad and open-ended language that would allow any health care provider to coerce children of any age and any capacity to consent to a number of medical treatments, including vaccination. In the case of vaccination, federal law requires that parents be provided with a VIS, a vaccine information sheet, prior to vaccination, making minor consent to vaccination illegal.”

If you are concerned, go to” and consider calling your NC congressional representatives and senators.