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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Parental consent bill dangerous


    The Arizona state Legislature, long a factory for questionable legislation, has been cranking out bad bills at breakneck speed lately.

    There was the inane, impractical proposal to require an American flag in every publicly funded classroom. There was the bid to rid the universities of “”offensive material”” – a term left open to interpretation.

    But of all the crud the legislature has churned out in recent weeks, a bill that would require parental consent for prescriptions for patients under 18 is by far the most worrisome.

    Some of the bill’s consequences are immediately apparent. Consider the case of a clinically depressed freshman who has distanced himself physically and financially from his parents. Even if his depression is the result of parental abuse or neglect, he will still have to write home for permission to take antidepressants, a decision his parents are free to reject.

    Of course, that probably didn’t concern legislators who rubber-stamped the bill in committee. After all, they’re really only concerned with one thing: sex.

    The crux of the issue is simple: Legislators don’t want teenagers, especially teen girls, to be given the choice of whether to have sex. Since, try as they might, they can’t ban the act itself, they’ve decided to do the next-best thing – make sex as high-risk as possible to deter teenagers from having it.

    The bill will likely have all the impact of abstinence-only education on teenage libidos – which is to say, none – but it will certainly make sex more risky.

    Arizona already has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. The effect of limiting access to birth control pills will almost certainly be to drive that rate higher.

    The restriction is even more worrisome in light of the fact that hormonal contraceptives such as the pill are the primary method of birth control for women. The primary method of birth control for men – condoms – will still be readily available.

    If the bill passes, Arizonans can also surely expect to see a jump in STD rates. It’s hard enough as it is to convince teenagers who are newly sexually active to get tested. If they know they will have to obtain their parents’ consent to be treated for an STD, many simply won’t bother.

    The objection could be raised that legislators are really only looking out for teenagers’ best interests – that medications such as birth control pills and antidepressants can cause potentially serious, even life-threatening, complications, and that parents should be aware of those risks.

    However, it’s important to note that the bill is one in favor of parental consent, not notification. Legislators aren’t interested in making sure parents are informed of their teens’ choices; they’re interested in making sure teens don’t have those choices in the first place. And that is a very scary concept.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson, Aaron Mackey and Tim Runestad.

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