, The Blaze
The Michigan mother who refused to allow a nurse have a “private” conversation with her teen daughter now believes the hospital misled parents by putting up a notice citing a new law that doesn’t seem to exist.
Christy Duffy tells TheBlaze she took her 17-year-old daughter to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, after she injured her foot. She was stunned when she saw a notice informing parents that a nurse would need to have a “private” conversation with children between the ages of 12 and 17.
The mother dug in her heels and refused to comply with what she felt was an infringement on her rights as a parent. Duffy says she was later informed by a representative with the hospital’s privacy department that someone “jumped the gun” and said there was no need to opt out because she isn’t actually legally required to allow a nurse to speak privately with her daughter.
The sign has been taken down, according to Duffy. It is unclear how long the sign was up or how many parents complied with the notice.
However, Duffy claims the hospital told her that a new medical records access law states that a minor must be given access to his or her medical records online, and that he or she can choose to block parents from having access.
TheBlaze has been unable to locate this new law on the Michigan Legislature’s website. One applicable law we were able to find states:
Under this act, a minor’s parent, guardian or person acting in loco parentis has the right to review and obtain a copy of the minor’s medical record, unless the minor lawfully obtained health care without the consent or notification of a parent, guardian or other person acting in loco parentis, in which case the minor has the exclusive right to exercise the rights of a patient under this act with respect to those medical records relating to that care.
TheBlaze has also thoroughly reviewed Michigan’s Medical Records Access Act and found no mentions of a required “private” conversation with minors.
Sparrow Hospital has repeatedly refused to clarify the law first cited or the “new” online medical records law. We were promised a response sometime on Thursday.
TheBlaze also spoke with a government official who is very familiar with legislation drafted and passed in the state of Michigan. The official, who asked to remain anonymous due to her position, was not aware of any legislation that requires nurses to hold “private” conversations with minors.
We also reviewed other minor-related privacy laws in Michigan and found no mention of a a required private conversation.
On the issue of birth control, there is apparently no specific state law in Michigan that determines whether minors can be given access to contraceptives without parental consent.
“Provider discretion applies for provides not funded by Title X or Title XIX,” according to Michigan.gov. “Generally, practitioners must be aware that there is no statutory authority or protection for their action.”
However, no parental consent is required for services provided by Title X funded agencies, which includes Planned Parenthood facilities. Parents are not permitted access to their children’s records at these facility without the minor’s “documented consent.”
A minor may also receive substance abuse services and STD-related diagnosis or treatment without parental consent. “Provider discretion” applies if a parent or guardian wants to access these medical records.
Laws will surely vary state to state, but 25 states currently permit minors to consent to contraceptive services in one or more circumstances, according to Contracept.org.
Duffy says she wants parents to know they are not required to leave their children alone with any hospital personnel for a private conversation. It’s “scary” to think that some parents may not understand the rights they have as a parent.
In fact, the mother says she didn’t believe parents’ rights were really eroding in America — until she came close to having hers infringed upon.
“I’ve seen many commenters say they didn’t realize they could say no to these private talks,” Duffy told TheBlaze. “After seeing my post, they say they now feel empowered to say no.”
Duffy told us a representative with the hospital’s privacy department told her that the private conversation would include information about STDs, birth control and minors would be told that the hospital is a safe place to discuss potential abuse. She also reportedly confirmed that parents are legally required to consent to the conversation.
The official also reportedly told Duffy that she could still “fill out a form” to access her daughter’s medical records, even if the teenager opted to set up a private online account.
“This has nothing to do with me being afraid or me not wanting my daughter to not have access to reproductive health information,” Duffy said. “This has everything to do with the erosion of parental rights. I think any parent who wants to allow their child to have that conversation — go for it, go at it. But I don’t.”
“It’s not about sex ed, drug awareness or anything else,” she continued. “I have been one of those parents who has believed this isn’t happening. My mother is a big Glenn Beck fan and has been telling me, ‘You need to get your head out of the sand.’ And I said, ‘It could never happen, this is America.’ … Well, it’s happening.”
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