By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles says the signing of AB499, a bill which will allow children as young as 12 years-old to receive vaccinations and other medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases without the knowledge of their parents, represents a “serious erosion of parental rights in California.”
According to KABC, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sunday and will give minors permission to receive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, without parental consent effective January 1, 2012. The law includes the controversial Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines which were designed to prevent the transmission of certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine has been under fire since its introduction in 2006 because it is associated with a variety of serious side effects.
While consumer groups are outraged over the state’s plan to shove the high costs of these treatments onto the backs of already cash-strapped taxpayers, the Church is expressing its dismay over the moral implications.
“Children are not mature enough to think through the consequences of complicated medical decisions,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“As a result of this law, children will now face these decisions without parental guidance — and likely under pressure from adults and corporate interests that have financial and other motives to promote these medications. Rather than excluding parents, our government should be working to support and assist them in making the best decisions possible for their children, especially when serious medical and moral issues are at stake.”
Edward E. “Ned” Dolejsi, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference went on to question the governor’s priorities.
“We are puzzled because on the same day he signed AB 499, the governor also signed SB 746, a ‘first-in-the-nation’ law to prevent children under 18 years of age from using tanning beds, and, just a month earlier, he vetoed SB 105, a bill to mandate ski helmets on underage youth, citing his concern with the ‘seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state,’ saying ‘I believe parents have the ability and responsibility to make good choices for their children.’
“We recognize that it is a challenge to create good public policy, but we believe that if long-standing and generally accepted principles are upheld, the common good is served. In this case, it appears that by signing AB 499, the Governor abandoned the principle of parental responsibility he so eloquently stated earlier. We find his action both regrettable and inexplicable.”
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