Oppose SB866: Minor Consent Lowered to Age 12 for Vaccines

Introduced by Senator Weiner and Senator Pan

Existing law prescribes various circumstances under which a minor may consent to their medical care and treatment without a consent of a parent or guardian. These circumstances include, among others, authorizing a minor 12 years of age or older who may have come into contact with am infectious, contagious, or communicable disease to consent to medical care related to the diagnosis or treatment of the disease, if the disease or condition is one that is required by law or regulation to be reported to the local health officer, or is a related sexually transmitted disease, as may de determined by the State Public Health Officer.

This bill would additionally authorize a minor 12 years of age or older to consent to vaccines that meet specified federal agency criteria. The bill would authorize a vaccine provider to provide any service that is not otherwise outside the vaccine provider’s scope of practice.

Senator Weiner stated that this bill falls in line with current state law that gives minors 12 and older the ability to make reproductive healthcare decisions, such as obtaining the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B vaccines.

We need EVERYONE to reach out to their senators and do the following in their emails:

  • Request a meeting via zoom, in person, or a town hall for constituents on this bill, SB866
  • Ask your Senators QUESTIONS about the concerns you have about this bill and clarify your expectation for a response or answer to your questions and concerns.
  • Tell your Senator to Oppose SB866 and to press the authors about your specific concerns on the floor during hearings.

Here are some issues with this bill and questions we should be asking our representatives:

1. While some 12+ year old minors may be able to make rational, informed decisions, minors of the same age have varying levels of maturity. Furthermore, the significant changes in adolescent brains mean 12+ year old minors are, more than at any other age, disproportionately swayed by peer pressure, lack of self-regulation and rewards (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422908/). Over the past year, food and beverages, lottery tickets, peer pressure and much more have been used as incentives to push the COVID-19 vaccine. For an adolescent this preys on their vulnerable and still developing cognition, which can prevent them from making unbiased and informed decisions and resulting in rash and impulsive decisions.

2. This also brings to mind the question — Can a minor give informed consent? For most, there is not a full understanding of what contributes to a healthy lifestyle or much concern for a person’s health until they’ve reached adulthood. Should a minor be able to make health decisions without parental consent that may impact their future health?

3. Most minors are unaware of their full medical history, the potential risks of vaccination, and they are not generally given enough information to be alert for possible adverse reactions. Is placing children in charge of their own health decisions when it comes to medical procedures and/or treatments that have an inherent risk of mortality ethically sound or even safe?

4. Despite the argument that vaccines are safe and effective, it is acknowledged that vaccine injuries, while considered rare, are in fact a risk and do happen. If their parents are unaware of their 12+ year old minor’s vaccination or any medical procedure, treatment of a serious adverse reaction may be delayed because the parents could not convey the child’s medical history accurately.

5. If 12+ year old minors have the right to consent to vaccines without their parent’s input, then 12+ year old minors should also have the right to decline vaccines without their parent’s input. What kind of information will be provided to children of this age to ensure they are being given some form of informed consent? Will there be repercussions for a child if a child declines a treatment that a doctor may feel is needed for the child? How can we protect children in a vulnerable position when with a provider, to empower them to also use their right to consent to say no?

Source: A Voice for Choice Advocacy

Click to read A Voice for Choice Advocacy Full Statement on SB866

Click to read ​​Senator Weiner’s Statement/LA Times

Click to read Full Bill Text 

For More Resources Visit: bit.ly/caleg22