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Calif. bill aims to hide kids' abortions, transgender procedures from parents

Calif. bill aims to hide kids' abortions, transgender procedures from parents

California State Capitol building with state flag in Sacramento on a windy summer day with clear sky. | Getty/Stock photo

A California state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would hold health insurance companies criminally liable if they disclose medical information to parents or guardians about their dependents, including details about procedures that have been performed without their knowledge.

Services and procedures mentioned in SB 1004, the "Confidentiality of Medical Information Act" include drug abuse and mental health treatments, abortions, and experimental gender transition hormones and related surgical procedures.

In a fact-sheet released by Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, the claim is that the legislation is necessary to protect young adults who remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26 from being shamed or hurt by the policyholder who disagrees with their healthcare choices.

The religious advocacy group Catholic Citizens of Illinois raised concerns, saying, "This bill not only hides the medical service used by young adults from their parents, but it also hides services for 'a minor who can consent to a health care service without the consent of a parent or legal guardian …"

California Family Council President Jonathan Keller said in a statement to The Christian Post that “government bureaucrats should not be helping Planned Parenthood undermine parents’ rights to guide and oversee the healthcare of their children."

“Transparency matters. The owner of an insurance policy deserves to know what medical procedures they are paying for. If an adult under 26 wants insurance privacy, they can and should purchase their own insurance,” he added.

California state law currently allows minors to give consent to the following medical procedures and treatments in cases of: abortion; drug­ and alcohol ­related problems; HIV/AIDS; certain infectious, contagious, or communicable diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases; mental health drugs and counseling; pregnancy and birth control; and sexual assault, according to the California Healthcare Foundation.

Under the new bill, insurers would be held criminally liable if they informed parents or guardians that their insurance policies were paying for any of these procedures for their children.

Planned Parenthood currently says on its website that minors who identify as transgender and want to take puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones — which cause sterility — must first obtain parental approval.

Some groups believe that a 1997 California state Supreme Court ruling might be used as the legal basis to justify permitting minors to obtain experimental drugs for transgender procedures without their parents' consent.

In a press release sent to CP, Pacific Justice Institute Senior Attorney Kevin Snider highlighted the case of American Academy of Pediatrics v. Lundgren, which, he said, "emasculated" parental rights, as it overturned a law requiring parents to be notified before a minor could undergo an abortion.

The California state Supreme Court held “that minors have informational and autonomy privacy in terms of intimate personal decisions which trumps the rights of parents. It is doubtful that the ruling would not extend to minors ingesting cross-sex hormones,” Snider said.

Another factor that points toward this as a likely development is a recent policy from the California Teachers Association, the state teachers' union.

The new CTA policy states that it believes "comprehensive school-based healthcare clinics are needed to bring caring and responsive services to young people. The clinics shall provide cisgender, transgender and non-binary youth equal and confidential access to decision-making rights for students and their families.”

The group's stated rationale for the policy is that "[c]urrent interpretation of California state law does not allow trans students to begin gender identity confirming hormone therapy without the consent of both legal guardians, however, it does allow for cis minors to receive hormones (e.g. birth control) without the barrier of parental permission."

“This inequity of decision-making forces some children to go through the wrong puberty and can negatively impact the child’s mental health,” the teachers' union claims. 

In December, Planned Parenthood announced its plans to establish health centers within 50 high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to offer their services to students. 

SB 1004 hasn't yet been assigned to a Senate committee for a hearing, and won't be assigned to a hearing until the Senate returns to session in May.

California is among the states whose lawmakers have pushed for transgender medicalization of children. In 2018, lawmakers passed AB 2119, legislation that guaranteed state resources would go toward "gender-affirmative" treatments for children in the state foster care system who identify as transgender or nonbinary. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in September of the same year.

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