Idaho Gov. Brad Little signs bill protecting parental rights in medical decisions

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The governor of Idaho has signed a bill into law that will prohibit the provision of healthcare services to minors without parental consent as concerns about the usurpation of parental rights persist in the United States. 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 1329 into law on Thursday. The measure, approved by the Republican-controlled Idaho Senate in a 27-7 party-line vote on Feb. 27 and passed by the Republican-controlled Idaho House of Representatives in a 59-11 party-line vote on March 13, seeks to ensure “parental rights in medical decision-making.” 

Specifically, the legislation declares that “parents have the fundamental right and duty to make decisions concerning the furnishing of health care services to the minor child” and states that “an individual shall not furnish a health care service or solicit to furnish a health care service to a minor child without obtaining the prior consent of the minor child’s parent.” It also prohibits healthcare providers or government entities from denying “a minor child’s parent access to health information.” 

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The measure defines “health information” as “information or data, collected or recorded in any form or medium, and personal facts of information about events or relationships that relates to” the “past, present, or future physical, mental, or behavioral health or condition of an individual or member of the individual’s family.” 

Additionally, the bill gives parents who feel that a health care professional or a government entity acted in violation of Senate Bill 1329 a private right of action against the violator and seek “declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and any other relief available under law.” 

Matt Sharp, an attorney with the conservative law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, praised the bill's enactment in a statement published Thursday. “Parents know and love their child best,” he said. “And they have the right and responsibility to direct the care and upbringing of their children—including making decisions regarding their child’s health care.”

“As we continue to see instances nationwide of government officials actively seeking to replace parents as the ultimate determiners of what’s best for children, we commend Idaho for safeguarding the vital role of parents to guide the medical care of their children,” he added. “Now and always, a loving parent will always be the best advocate to ensure their child gets the care needed.”

The passage of Senate Bill 1329 comes as the topic of parental rights has gained prominence as a potent political issue nationwide. In recent years, parents have sued school districts after discovering that school officials have concealed the fact that their children identified as members of the opposite sex from them. 

In Leon County, Florida, parents January and Jeffrey Littlejohn filed a lawsuit against several officials in the public school system in 2021 after learning that school officials referred to their middle school-aged daughter by a boy’s name at school while always using her birth name and correct pronouns in official communications with the parents.

In a previous interview with The Christian Post, Littlejohn accused the school district of working to drive a “wedge” between her and her daughter. 

A policy on the books in Montgomery County Public Schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, stating that “Unless the student or parent/guardian has specified otherwise, when contacting the parent/guardian of a transgender student, MCPS school staff members should use the student’s legal name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s sex assigned at birth” prompted a lawsuit from anonymous parents.

A federal judge appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama dismissed the complaint in August 2022. A report from the parental rights advocacy group Parents Defending Education, originally published last year, found that more than 1,000 school districts across the U.S. have similar policies in place. As of February, 1,059 school districts encompassing 18,595 schools and educating more than 10 million students have encouraged school officials to keep a child’s gender identity from parents.

Idaho is not the first state to pass a law seeking to safeguard parental rights. In 2022, Florida passed House Bill 1557, which requires schools to notify parents about changes to their children’s mental, physical and emotional health. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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