Ask the County Law Librarian – When does a minor have to get parental consent for medical care?
Q. I’m currently working on a project for my ethics class. In this project I play the role of a risk manager who provides information to a 15 year old patient asking for medical emancipation. Do you know of any good resources where I can find more information on medical emancipation because I haven’t been successful in my research? Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it very much.
In most cases, parental consent is required for a minor’s medical treatment. There are, however, exceptions, known as “medical emancipation” statutes. These statutes, which allow minors to consent to medical treatment without parental knowledge, approval, or consent, fall into two categories: “general” medical emancipation statutes, which are based on a minor’s status, and “limited” medical emancipation statutes, which apply to specific, designated medical conditions. Academy of Pediatrics v. Lungren, 16 Cal. 4th 307 (1997).
Examples of general medical emancipation statutes are California Family Code § 7002, which provides that a minor who has become emancipated by reason of a court order, marriage, or active duty in the United States armed forces is considered an adult for purposes of consenting to health care services; and California Family Code § 6922, which provides that minors who are 15 years of age or older, living away from home, and managing their own financial affairs, regardless of the source of their income, may consent to their own medical care.
Limited medical emancipation statutes cover certain circumstances where the state’s interest in protecting the health of minors is considered to outweigh a parent’s right to make medical decisions on behalf of their children. Minors may be reluctant, because of embarrassment or fear, to tell their parents about medical conditions resulting from specific conduct. Consequently, minors may postpone or avoid seeking needed medical care if they are required to obtain parental consent prior to receiving treatment for those conditions. California’s limited medical emancipation statutes include:
Family Code § 6924(b) A minor 12 years of age or older may consent to mental health treatment, counseling, or residential shelter services if (1) the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently, in the opinion of the health care provider, and (2) the minor is either a danger to himself or herself or others without the treatment, or is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse.
Family Code § 6925: A minor of any age may consent to care related to the prevention or treatment of pregnancy.
Family Code § 6926: A minor 12 years of age or older may consent to treatment of an infectious, contagious, communicable, or sexually-transmitted disease.
AB 499 (2011): Beginning in January 2012, minors 12 years of age and older may consent for medical care related to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
Family Code § 6927: A minor 12 years of age or older may consent to treatment of care related to the diagnosis or treatment of rape.
Family Code § 6928: A minor of any age may consent to care related to the diagnosis or treatment of sexual assault.
Family Code § 6929 A minor 12 years of age or older may consent to care related to the diagnosis or treatment of drug- or alcohol-related problems.
Health & Safety Code § 121020: A minor 12 years of age or older may consent to HIV testing.
For more information on medical emancipation, see www.teenhealthlaw.org. For information on this and many more subjects, visit the Sacramento County Public Law Library, “Providing Free Public Access to Legal Information for over 100 years.”
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