New law lets 12-year-olds consent to preventive care for STDs


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California Gov. Jerry Brown stepped into the middle of a debate over parental rights Sunday by signing legislation giving children 12 or older the power to consent to medical care involving the prevention of sexually transmitted disease.

Asssemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) sponsored AB 499 with the aim of providing young people with timely preventative treatment, including the human papillomavirus [HPV] vaccine that proponents say can reduce the risk of certain cancers, precancerous cervical cell changes and genital warts.


The measure was backed by groups including the California STD Controllers Assn., the Health Officers Assn. of California, ACT for Women and Girls and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The bill was opposed by the California Catholic Conference, which opposed previous measures that allow minors to consent to certain treatments without the involvement of parents.

That group wrote to legislators that ‘this bill is dangerous because it expands a faulty law which assumes that children know better than their parents and because it will allow minors access to HPV vaccines which may cause them permanent harm.’


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— Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento