Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., May 26
Controversy Over Minors' Right to Prevent STDs
Conservatives of all stripes are expressing alarm over the recent passage of California Assembly Bill 499, introduced by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins of San Diego. If signed by Governor Brown, the bill would allow minors 12 years of age or older to seek preventative care that would assist them in avoiding contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
Vaccines would be available for diseases such as Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the world’s most prevalent STD and the cause of almost all documented cases of cervical cancer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all girls over the age of 12 receive HPV vaccinations. Also available would be HIV post-exposure medications, which prevent a person exposed to the virus from developing an infection that can morph into AIDS.
Currently, minors age 12-17 are allowed to seek treatment for STDs they’ve already contracted. The new law would extend this right to include preventative care.
The bill is opposed by the California Catholic Conference, which is urging its members to call Brown and ask for his veto. Fiscal conservatives say the bill could place an undue financial burden on the state, as it specifically absolves parents of responsibility for payment if a minor seeks treatment, with costs estimated at $300 to $500 per doctor’s visit. One website even goes so far as to suggest that passage of the bill would “mandate STD vaccine[s] for sixth grade girls.”
The full text of the bill is available here.
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