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Our AG wants every sexually active minor turned in to SRS/police

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
For more information, check out the below link

http://www.ljworld.com/section/archive/story/135768

Here is a letter I posted on our local forum.

Mr. Kline just issued a new opinion, that people providing care for young women under the age of 16 must report any and all sexual activity to SRS or the police. This means that teens coming for a pap smear, for STD testing or treatment, for information of birth control....all of these women must be reported. Young men who seek treatment for STDs must also be reported.

All of you think back....at least *some* of you were sexually active when you were 15 (and sexual activity has not been defined for us health care providers yet...if someone comes in and says they only have had oral sex, are we supposed to report them? I don't know). How would it have affected you to know that, if you sought *any* sort of treatment, information, or birth control, that you and your parents would be reported to SRS?

I work in a women's health clinic. Thursday morning a woman called and said that her 14 year old daughter had come home with two hickies on her neck. The mom was worried that her daughter was sexually active, but they (the parents) were having problems talking to her. She wanted to bring her daughter in, have her recieve and exam and pap and testing for STDs, and for us to provide both her and her daughter with information regarding birth control options and STD information (this is a common request....information changes frequently, and many parents feel they are not adequately informed to discuss this with their child. So they all come in, get the info from us, discuss it with us, and then hopefully again at home). We told her of the new opinion and that we were unsure how it affected us (ie if we really have to comply). The mom decided against bringing her child in, for fear of being reported.

Now, if this opinion changes, will this child still receive any care? Will she be politically savy enough to know when political tides change and it is safe for her to seek health care? Or will she forever be distrustful of physicians? I have provided many young women with STD, pregnancy, and birth control information over the past couple of years. I have always made clear to them that the information they provide us with is privileged--that we would never share it with *anyone* without their permission. Of course we always encourage them to discuss their activities and questions with their parents...but our primary concern is for their physical and emotional health, and we are going to treat them and give them information regardless of their relationship with their parents.

I fear with this one man's opinion, young men and women will not seek health care. Or they will lie to their practitioners. Or that I will have to make the decision to not report a sexually active teen, and risk my license and therefore my ability to do this work that I love, as well as contribute to my family's income.

I hope that any of you that do not agree with Mr. Kline's opinion will let it be known, to Mr. Kline's office, to your state legislators, and to the governor.

Thank you!

Lori

Me again. Please, if you don't live in Kansas, let your own state legislators know how horrible you find this (if indeed you do find it horrible) so that it doesn't happen in your own state. If you *do* live in Kansas, let your politicians know how you feel about this. Write your local newpapers. I fear the repercussions of this opinion. I can't be too vocal about it; I fear what will happen to our clinic if we protest this man too loudly.
post #2 of 40
I am so appalled I do not know what to say.

post #3 of 40
this isn't about parents knowing anything. we are talking about breaking the law (a stupid law IMO). would you have teenage girls in jail for having sex??? and this will reduce the number of girls seeking medical care, I thought that repubs cared so much for unborn babies. Yet now they make a decision that will either put pregnant girls in jail or in the least put the fear of getting medical care in them. How will they feel when girls end up dead because they are afraid of getting medical attention? So much for protecting girls then. Oh yeah, they will be getting what they deserve for having sex before marriage. :
post #4 of 40
Thread Starter 
My dear nursing mother, we aren't talking here of parents knowing what their children do....if *you* bring your child in for a pap, and she isn't 16, I have to report your family to SRS. If there is suspected sexual activity in a child under the age of 16, the child and family must be reported to SRS, per our state AG.

While I feel if a child of 15 comes in for birth control, that child has a right of privacy, and I won't call her parents, because HER health is my concern, not what her parents think or know (though i certainly will *urge* her to discuss it with her parents; hence we sometimes have parents coming in with their teens, not because the parents want to, but because the *teen* requested it), the main issue here is that, regardless of parental involvement or knowlege, the state of Kansas will be given the names of all sexually active children and will then have the power to decide if any action should be taken.

I don't think that is appropriate.
post #5 of 40
Parents knowing and agencies (strangers) knowing are two different issues.

Why do they want to know is what I want to know? Just so that the parents can be informed? What is the SRS?

I have 2 dds and I hope that I have the type of relationship with them when they are teenagers that I will know what's going on. I also hope that I give them enough information that they will make thoughtful, intelligent decisions about their bodies.

However, if they did not feel comfortable discussing something with me, I would want them to be able to get the information they needed without fear of being reported. This will leave a lot of teenage girls without the options some of them desparately need.

My two cents.
post #6 of 40
SRS is Social Rehabilitation Service.

Is this enforcible? It's an official opinion, not a newly introduced piece of legislation.

I agree that it's a bad idea. Like Arduinna said, it will scare girls away from getting medical care. You'll likely have rampant STDs and girls with permanent reproductive health problems because of this.
post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 
I don't know whether it is enforcible or not. We are on totally unsure ground here. Apparently the AG's job is to enforce the law. Our former AG interpreted the law differently. Our current AG is saying that that interpretation was wrong, that the law actually calls for the reporting of all sexual abuse, and since it is illegal to have sex with a minor, that any minor who is sexually active is experiencing sexual abuse. Thus we are required by law to report all sexually active teens.

Am I going to lose my license because I don't report a 15 year old to whom I give birth control information? Thus affecting my future as a midwife (or perhaps making the decision for me to become a lay midwife!) and my ability to help pay the bills? Is it right to turn a responsible family in to SRS? What sort of emotional distress is *that* going to cause? Is it right to suddenly add many additional case loads to a social welfare system that is experiencing huge budget cuts? Aren't social workers already overworked enough as it is? Is this going to cause social workers to take reports of "sexual abuse" less seriously? We *do* occasionally file reports with SRS when we feel that a teen is involved in an unhealthy or abusive sexual relationship. Will SRS act more slowly, because there is now no distiction between sexual abuse and consentual sex, and the offices will wither be overburdened or will dismiss legitimate claims of sexual abuse as just one more report from a doctor's office of a sexually active teen?

I fear we can only begin to fathom the negative repercussions of this one conservative asshole's opinion. Unfortunately he is in the position where his opinion appears to be legally binding until the courts decide otherwise.
post #8 of 40
While I think your AG has taken a ridiculous and counterproductive position, I also think you're overstating it...perhaps to the detriment of your clinic's potential clients.

From the newspaper article (I've not read the opinion itself), it appears the only circumstance in which the AG is claiming there's a duty to report is when a health care professional encounters a minor, age 16 or under, who is pregnant. Look:

Quote:
So on Wednesday, the Kansas attorney general issued an opinion directing the state's abortion providers to call police or the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Service when they encounter pregnant patients who obviously had sexual intercourse before they were 16.

The same applies to doctors and nurses providing prenatal care, counselors and social workers.
It does not appear, at least as reported in this article, that the information you gave that woman about her 14 year old daughter and what your clinic might have to do was correct. Is there something else in the opinion itself that indicates that you need to report even STDs and the like?

Also, note that one can challenge the AG's opinion - it's not like Supreme Court opinion. Of course, though, it also will cost significant time and money to do so, if one defies the opinion, is found in violation of the law as stated in the opinion, and then must challenge it in court.
post #9 of 40
From your article:
Quote:
"The attorney general's opinion reflects his politics -- Mr. Kline has long been an anti-choice zealot," said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Brownlie said Kline's opinion would not affect Planned Parenthood's procedures.

"First of all, this is an opinion, it's not binding," Brownlie said. "Second, we're already in full compliance with the law."

In his opinion, Kline said that when a girl younger than 16 is pregnant, doctors, nurses and social workers have "reason to suspect that a child has been injured as a result of physical, mental or emotional abuse or neglect or sexual abuse" and are required to report it.

Brownlie disagreed, arguing that not all underage pregnancies constituted an injury.

"That's a decision that, in the law, is left up to professional judgment and is to be made on a case-by-case basis," Brownlie said, noting that Planned Parenthood workers routinely call authorities when there's reason to suspect physical or emotional abuse.

"The A.G. is saying that a 14- and 15-year-old having sex is inherently injurious," he said. "It's our position that that's not necessarily the case."
I agree with Marlena - it's only the AG's opinion. I do agree with PP's statement that not all underage sexually active minors are victims. It's not what we want but to deny it is silly.
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
Good point, Marlena.

Just for more info, we told the mom to call us on Monday, for we might have more info then.

BUT, this is where we are unsure....what falls into the category of sexual exploitation (as Kline says we must protect our children from that)? Pregnancy, he says. By his same logic, any adverse effect of sexual activity, including STDs. He makes clear that having intercourse under the age of 16 is illegal.

As of Thursday, we hed received *no* indication of what we should and should not report. Thursday afternoon we decided to just do what we always do until we hear otherwise. But I'm a little fearful of my license.

Perhaps you are right, and we are being too nervous. I don't know. And I don't know where it will lead!
post #11 of 40
Thread Starter 
Read the opinion here:

http://www.kscourts.org/ksag/opinions/2003/2003-017.htm


Here are a few excerpts from the opinion that still don't answer my questions, as they seem to be aimed mainly at abortion providers, but clearly state that any sort of intercourse is abuse and therefore reportable.


"The outcome of any one of these kinds of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor female,(15) whether voluntary or involuntary, could be an unwanted pregnancy for which an abortion is sought from a physician. Because sexual intercourse with any girl under the age of 16 is statutorily defined as "sexual abuse," as a matter of law sexual abuse has occurred. We also reach the conclusion that sexual abuse of a child is inherently injurious, thereby triggering the mandatory reporting requirement."



"...injury as a result of sexual abuse should be inferred as a matter of law whenever sexual intercourse, whether voluntary or involuntary, has occurred with a child under the age of 16. Because pregnancy clearly implies a prior act of sexual intercourse, a doctor who performs abortions would have a reason to suspect that any pregnant female under the age of 16 has been injured as a result of sexual abuse as a matter of law. In such circumstances the doctor has a mandatory duty to report this suspicion to the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.(28) "

Does the above requirement also mean that, if some child has an STD, that is also reportable (as an injury)?

You can see where our confusion lies. Anyone better at reading these opinions, please, read through it and give me your thoughts!
post #12 of 40
Thread Starter 
Another excerpt which seems to confirm my fears...

"Other situations that might trigger a mandated reporter's obligation, because sexual activity of a minor becomes known, include a teenage girl or boy who seeks medical attention for a sexually transmitted disease, a teenage girl who seeks medical attention for a pregnancy, or a teenage girl seeking birth control who discloses she has already been sexually active. Nevertheless, in reaching this conclusion we are mindful of and have followed a well-known and accepted tenet of law..."

This seems to say to me that, if I know a minor is sexually active, I am to report it. Is this how you read it? Or do you read it differently?
post #13 of 40
Thanks for the link!

Your clinic probably has legal counsel (pro bono or otherwise), right? This is a question for her/him! I'm not licensed to practice in KS, and thus do not want to stick my neck out here, especially when y'all could get sued.

Interestingly, though, the opinion does not cite KS high court law, or even state court law, in its primary citations allegedly supporting its position. One would need to look at the relevant KS statutes and state cases in order to better determine the likely way the courts (the ones that matter, that is!) would come down on the issue.

Incidentally, I do agree that, if one were to be logically consistent with the AG's opinion, one would likely need to report minors with STDs. However, the opinion itself does not appear to make any such requirement, at least on its face.
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
So the last little bit that I posted doesn't seem to require us to report sexual activity?

Anyhow, Marlena especially, thanks for your opinions. We are loath to stick our necks out, as we already operate in a tenuous position (performing out of hospital births) and there are those in the medical community here that would love to see us get nailed for something and shut down. We operate on a shoestring budget and have no time or money for lobbying, nor do we have any clout, either, since we are so small. Also, we quitely supported Mr. Kline's opponent (since he and his wife had their baby with us, we knew they were cool...). Finally, we have had issues with the state regarding reimbursement for births, and fear sticking our necks out or rocking the boat for fear that we will be crossed off the list of providers for pregnant women (thereby reducing our births by 1/3, since that is the number of women who come to us with state medical cards).

We are trying very hard to provide care without getting shut down. Plus, I feel strongly that it is not the state's business if a 15 year old has consentual sex, particularly if she is actually responsible enough to seek care and information! So I personally would rather say screw the law, I'll do what I want. But I don't want to jeapordize my facility in doing that. So I want to know where I/we stand. And that last little bit of the opinion, where it states:

"Other situations that might trigger a mandated reporter's obligation, because sexual activity of a minor becomes known, include a teenage girl or boy who seeks medical attention for a sexually transmitted disease, a teenage girl who seeks medical attention for a pregnancy, or a teenage girl seeking birth control who discloses she has already been sexually active."

Seems to me to say that these are also situations where practitioners should report sexual abuse.

I'll be interested to see what is said about this in our staff meeting on Tuesday.
post #15 of 40
Thread Starter 
Maybe Mr. Kline is watching? I'll bet he is a friend of Ashcroft...
post #16 of 40
I'm confused. I thought it was illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor, not for a minor to have sex period. And not for a minor to have sex with another minor.

In my state the age of consent is 18, but if a minor has sex she has not done anything illegal - the one who had sex with her has committed the crime.

Also, in the case of two minors, it's only illegal if there are 3 or more years between them. So 17-year-olds can have sex with 15-year-olds but not with 14-year-olds.

Teens should not be afraid to seek medical care. And no, as a parent I do not think I have the right to know everything my kid is doing. I figure if she can't talk to me when she gets older about sex-related stuff, something is very wrong with our family and I have to do my part to fix it.

Many teens and pre-teens are blamed when they are sexually abused. If a girl is raped and her parents will just tell her it's all her fault, I can see why she would want to seek a secret abortion or STD treatments.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Teens should not be afraid to seek medical care. And no, as a parent I do not think I have the right to know everything my kid is doing. I figure if she can't talk to me when she gets older about sex-related stuff, something is very wrong with our family and I have to do my part to fix it.

BINGO


First and foremost, the person deserves medical care. This is clearly just another roadblock thrown up by right-to-lifers at the expense of sometimes desparate young women.


El
post #18 of 40
Thread Starter 
Oh, Mr. Kline is a well known abortion foe. He is certainly well within his rights to have a personal opinion, but not to use his office to make legislation.

Greaseball, the way our AG is saying it is that in our state, sexual intercourse with a minor (even by another minor, apparently) is illegal. So if a minor is sexually active, he/she is the victim of sexual abuse, and the way I read it, we are obligated to report it.

Which, in effect, will bar access for many teens.

He is such a dick.
post #19 of 40
Actually, yes, Kline and Ashcroft are friends.

I do not think lorijds is overstating the issues.

I live in KS also, and I've read much about it from an educator's standpoint. Educators are also compelled to report abuse.

Yes, it is his INTERPRETATION, but he expects the law to be followed according to his interpretation of it. I do imagine his interpretation will be challenged.

Can you imagine the responsibility this puts a high school nurse in? School counselors? Can you imagine how many teenagers will no longer confide in their school nurse and counselor regarding sexual activity and pregnancy?
post #20 of 40

what happens if that 16 yr old

is legally married because her parents signed the consent form to allow it ?
does her dh go to jail along with her ?
This stinks ...
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