parents, children, kids, rights
Yesterday I wrote about a sign in my doctor's office, informing parents that all 12 - 17 year olds must have a private conversation with a nurse. Seeking clarification, I emailed my medical group. The next day, I received a phone call from Kim in the privacy department. She could not have been more pleasant or patient as she explained why my office had posted that notice:

The medical group has developed an on-line system for making appointments and asking questions of health care professionals. You can also access test results and messages from your health care provider there. This online portal is now available to 12 - 17 year olds; they can sign up for their own account. Because of current law, these minors have the option of denying their parents access to the on-line account. This information would be included in the private conversation mentioned on the sign.

The five minute conversation would also inform the minor that he can receive reproductive care without parental consult or consent. This would include information on STDs, HIV and birth control. This is also a result of legislation - but this has been on the books for years.

The ability of the minor to deny his parents access to the on-line portion of his medical records is required by law. The ability of a medical professional to offer reproductive care without parental consent is required by law. What is not required is the five minute private conversation between a minor and a nurse.

According to Kim, this was an overstep of my particular office. She said in no uncertain terms that the sign should not have been posted. She said the medical group was not ready to implement the policy because they don't even know how they'll implement it. Someone just jumped the gun. And the sign was removed.

"Jumped the gun," not, "This is never going to happen..." It is. They will attempt to separate a child from her parent at an appointment. They just don't know when.

Since the sign's down, what's the point of bringing this up? What's the big deal anyway? We're talking about five minutes with a nurse - is that really such a monumental issue? Well, in the short term, no. I have nothing to hide. I do not abuse my children. But that's not the point.

The point is that parents' rights are eroding right in front of our eyes.

I know, I know. I'm an alarmist. I'm crazy. I've been listening to right-wing radio talk show hosts who tell us the government is out to take control of our kids and we should all move to Montana and live off the grid.

But I'm not an alarmist. I have not wanted to believe this was happening in our country. I'm not crazy - not that kind, anyway. I listen to NPR more than talk radio. And y'all know I'm not into farming, camping or living anywhere without serious, made-possible-by-the-grid facilities.

I just want to live with running water, internet access and my God-given parental rights intact.

I have dear friends who work at this medical group, trusted doctors who treat patients in the best way they know how. One of the doctors said, "The realities are that the government has more and more control and our hands are being forced in certain directions due to reimbursement issues." It's about control and money.

Here is what all parents need to know: there is NO law requiring a nurse to have a private conversation with your child. If a doctor asks you to step out of the exam room so she can talk with your child, please know you do not have to comply. The doctor cannot force you to leave.

Parents, do not miss out on the opportunity to graciously but firmly say that you will be in charge of what your children hear about their medical well-being, including sex and drugs and other hot-button, values-based issues. These children are gifts for us to steward; do not give up that responsibility and privilege.