North Carolina State House Bill 693, Parental Consent and Sexual Health

House Bill 693 was introduced to the North Carolina House in April 2013. It seeks to amend current statutes regarding the care of minors and parental consent. If passed, minors seeking treatment for any mental health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol or substance abuse, and pregnancy would be required to obtain notarized parental consent before receiving treatment. Should the bill pass, North Carolina will be the first state to deny minors to receive treatment regarding sexual health without parental consent.

North Carolina has one of the highest rates of STDs in the nation, and adolescents are disproportionately affected. Let’s look at the chlamydia rates for example: for the entire state, the rate is 564/100,000. For the age group 15-19, the rate is nearly 6 times the state rate,  2796/100,000.a STDs also represent a major cost in the US healthcare system; in 2011, nearly $16 billion was spent on STD care.b By requiring parental consent for treatment for these diseases, many minors will choose to forego treatment. This will increase medical costs as serious adverse outcomes can occur when STDs are not treated properly and timely. This is a major public health issue, and should be addressed properly, with better sexual health education.

     a North Carolina DHHS, North Carolina HIV/STD Surveillance Report, 2011. Retrieved from http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/stds/figures.html#annual

     b CDC, STD Trends in the United States, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats11/trends-2011.pdf