Bill would guarantee parents access to minors’ medical records with exceptions for abuse, neglect

Republished from Kentucky Lantern


FRANKFORT — Members of the Kentucky Senate Health Services committee passed — along party lines — a bill to ensure parents and guardians have access to medical records of the minors in their care unless those records are protected because of abuse or neglect. 

House Bill 174 passed the House in early March. Now that it has cleared a Senate committee on a vote of 8-2, it can go to the floor for consideration. 

Sponsor Rep. Rebecca Raymer, R-Morgantown, said she brought the bill forward after hearing from constituents who lost access to their childrens’ medical records once those children turned 13. 

Under her bill, providers who suspect neglect or abuse, she said, maintain “discretion” on whether to release those records. 

In speaking against the bill, Tamarra Wieder, Kentucky state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said it would “create a chilling precedent.” 

Under HB174, Wieder said, “we’re going to have to disclose to minors under the age of 18 that all of your medical records, upon request of your parents — mental health, reproductive health — are going to be turned over to your parents.” 

She testified that some conversations, like those surrounding menstruation and sex, are uncomfortable for children to make with a provider if their parents are privy to that. 

Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville, took issue.

“If a child doesn’t want to talk to their parents, that’s not a legislative issue. That is a parenting issue,” he said. “As a parent, I’m responsible for insurance. I’m responsible for food. I’m responsible for paying for the doggone health care. And then someone tells me I may have a role in the decisions that my child makes. Really? Are you kidding me?” 

Douglas, a physician, added: “Don’t ask us to legislate the inability of a parent to communicate with their child.”  

Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, expressed worry that the bill could expose minor victims of sexual assault, especially when a parent is the perpetrator. 

In voting against the bill, Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-Louisville, said she is “worried about the way this is going to impact kids’ access to different types of medical treatment, particularly things like mental health.” 

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