The Colorado legislature is currently debating a bill that puts minors at serious risk and denies parents’ rights to oversee the healthcare of their children. Colorado law already circumvents parents’ rights by allowing minors to family planning services and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – without parental notification or consent.

But a new bill, SB20-156, aims to circumvent parental rights even further by expanding the number of issues where minors can seek medical treatment or counseling – without their parents’ knowledge or consent. In many cases, the state will end up paying for minors who seek out STI/D counseling, testing, treatment and prescriptions and family planning services. If passed, this legislation would increase the possibility that sexual abuse and abortion could go unnoticed by parents and/or guardians.

The bill, “codifies a number of preventative health care services currently required to be covered by health insurance carriers pursuant to the federal ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ (also known as “Obamacare”) and adds them to the current list of services required to be covered by Colorado health insurance carriers, which services are not subject to policy deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance. The bill expands certain preventative health care services to include osteoporosis screening, urinary incontinence screening, and screening and treatment of a sexually transmitted infection.” 

To a certain extent, what is described sounds good. If possible, insurance providers should provide coverage for most preventative health care services. But the problem is that it also expands how physicians can interact with minors when it comes to STIs and family planning.

The bill expands STI treatment, allowing a health care provider to “administer, dispense, or prescribe preventive measure or medications where applicable.” All without parental involvement. 

“I think it’s an encroachment on parental rights,” State Representative Dave Williams (R-15) said in an interview with The Daily Citizen. “The fact that minors and doctors can’t let parents know about what treatment they’re undergoing is concerning. Especially when you’re talking about family planning. It implies that minors are trying to get pregnant or may terminate a pregnancy without parental knowledge. That is troubling to me and I would not support that bill and ask others to oppose it as well.”

Parents should be involved in health care decisions regarding their children. If a child is given a treatment for a STI, did the child fully explain to the physician what medications they may already be taking to avoid a negative interaction? Are the parents aware of what side effects they should look out for? Did the doctor, especially depending on the age, consider the possibility that the STI infection could’ve been the result of sexual abuse? Does the physician know if the minor is engaging in risky or illegal sexual behaviors? What if the minor is looking for something like Plan B or the abortion pill? 

Coverage of abortifacients would be considered part of the “family planning” portion of the bill. A parent should be involved in these type decisions. Young women need help, hope and support if they find themselves pregnant. They should not be alone in a health care office, like Planned Parenthood, feeling the pressure to make a decision that they may regret for the rest of their lives.

“I’m not entirely sure what the driving force is,” Rep. Williams said. “The bill makes reference to the Affordable Care Act. It’s possible that Democrats are concerned about President Trump and the federal efforts to roll back the law and trying to do what they can and put forth their own alternative. 

It seems like the State’s Democrat party should put more emphasis on protecting minors and parental relationships, not leaving children and teens vulnerable to potential abuse. Nor should children be left on their own to make dangerous, life-altering decisions.

This is not limited to Colorado either. Several states have adopted similar legislation. These types of bills are essentially blank checks to Planned Parenthood to perform a variety of services on minors without oversight. Something that Planned Parenthood, with its pro-money and anti-health care policy, would welcome.

Parents have the right to know if their child has an STI or if their daughter is considering an abortion. Expanding health care should not include denying parental rights.