"In Ohio, people under 18 who are in labor cannot consent to their own health care. They can receive emergency services, but nothing considered to be elective. For the many Ohio minors who become pregnant, it's a painful gap in coverage."
Maureen Sweeney, a RN at a Cleveland hospital, recalls a difficult situation when she helped a teen mom who was in labor. "The teen was scared. She didn't talk much and didn't trust any of her doctors" Sweeney noted. Dealing with increasing pain, the teen mom requested an epidural. When Sweeney called the anesthesia department, her order for the epidural was denied because the patient was a minor. The denied request left Sweeney in shock and to her dismay, she had to inform the Teen Mom that it will be a natural delivery.
"Ohio is one of 13 states that has no explicit policy allowing a minor to consent to prenatal and pregnancy-related care. "
Experts, Dr. Michael Cackovic and Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, are currently advocating for change in health care for minors. As an obstetrician, Dr. Cackovic believes that current Ohio laws regarding minor rights in health care are "pretty backwards". He gives an example of how "the teenage mother can consent to the care of her baby, but she can't consent to the prenatal procedure that would help pinpoint a diagnosis " for fetal abnormalities. Thu-Thao Rhodes, who works with Advocates for Youth, is looking to address health care access of minors. Her organization is currently working with other groups to promote education as well as policy strategies that improve reproductive and sexual health for youth. Fortunately, two representatives in Ohio, Nickie Antonio and Kristin Boggs are working on a bill to improve access for Teen Moms. HB 302 will "allow pregnant minors to consent to health care from the prenatal stage through delivery."
Here at More than Sex-Ed, we recognize the need of health care access for minors. Laws that deny medication for Teen Moms are harmful to reproductive and sexual health. We support fact based policies that improve the health of minors. Please leave a comment below to let us know what you think about health care access for minors!