SB172 by Katie Banuelos

SB172 by Katie Banuelos

On March 9th, I testified on behalf of the LP-NV at the hearing for SB172, a bill which would allow minors to consent to all available forms of contraception and STD prevention, without limitation and without parental consent or notification. It was a very interesting experience!

The sponsors of the bill included representatives from both Washoe County Health District and the Southern Nevada Health District. In their opening presentations it became clear that they had drafted this bill specifically with treatment for HIV-AIDS in mind. I felt that parts of their presentation were extremely disingenuous – for example, they talked at length about the public health impacts of several STIs that are not preventable (except by condom use) and would not be impacted by this bill.

There was also a fascinating divide in the public comment. Almost every person who spoke in favor was a paid lobbyist or industry representative with a financial interest in expanding these type of services! On the other side of the issue? Parents. You can watch the video from the hearing here.

When it was my turn to speak, this was my statement:

To the chair and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak. I am here on behalf of the LPNV, to testify in opposition to SB172. As a mother of two, I am also personally concerned about the implications of this bill.

Children are simply not capable of informed consent. Children have rights, but they are not developmentally able to execute them. It is the absolute right of parents to protect and safeguard their children until they can assume all the responsibilities of adulthood.

This bill cannot alter the fundamental nature of what it means to be a child. It doesn’t confer the capacity for informed consent. It simply allows other adults to insert their judgement in place of that of parents.

As many before me have noted, the drugs and treatments implied by this bill are not without risk – many of them have serious side effects or potential harms. Everything is a matter of tradeoffs and risk assessment, and it is a disservice to children and teens to pretend that they are able to navigate these concerns, when they are not.

The practical effect of this bill will be to dramatically expand the number of adults who are legally able to make complex medical decisions for children who aren’t theirs, in total secrecy, without liability or any real stake in the overall wellbeing of the child.

This bill undermines parental rights. It also undermines the very notion of informed consent. Please vote NO on SB172 to protect children and protect parental rights.

The Libertarian Party also submitted a formal statement in opposition to this bill – you can find it on the legislative NELIS website as part of the public record. We will keep our eye on this bill to see if our opposition contributed to its demise – but if it goes before our elected representatives for a vote, you will hear from us! Subscribe to our email newsletter to stay informed this legislative cycle, and please consider supporting our efforts if you are able to.