Kathleen M. Berchelmann on the rights of parents

Christina here…

I’ve managed to upload another video of the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally from yesterday.

This one is a short clip of Kathleen M. Berchelmann, who is a pediatrician. She talks about how healthcare laws affect her job and her ability to practice medicine. I have transcribed the most relevant portion below.

She is wearing a lab coat. You must trust her.



I want to add my perspective as a practicing physician about our liberties that we’ve already lost. when I talk to my college friends (who tend to be quite liberal) and my colleagues, everyone says, “What religious freedom have you lost?”… It’s about our liberties that we’ve already lost, and about preventing future loss… So I want to tell you what it’s like to be a practicing physician and a practicing Catholic. In the state of Missouri, any Minor of any age – there’s no age cutoff can go to any Title X health clinic and most hospitals including my own… and behind a closed door ask for privacy from their parent – and they have to be guaranteed that privacy

Well, you either give a minor the “liberty” of privacy from their parents with regard to their own medical care, or you do not give them that “liberty”, and instead give parents the “liberty” to not allow a child privacy when discussing medical care.

Missouri Law requires minors receive consent from their parents most of the time. These minors may consent to any medical treatment:

*Minors who are or have ever been married

*Minors who are parents (for their own and their child’s care)

*Minors who are homeless, 16 years of age or older, and living without the physical and financial support of a parent or guardian, if a parent has previously given express or implied consent to their living independently (implied consent: includes barring the minor from the home, indicating that he or she is not welcome to stay, refusing to provide financial support, or subjecting the minor to physical, sexual or emotional abuse)

Title X health clinics are federally funded and must provide confidential services to minors and may not require parental consent for those services. Any minor can consent to pregnancy testing or medical care related to pregnancy (excluding abortion), STD’s, or forensic medical examinations.

As far as confidentiality goes:

Fear of disclosure prevents some minors from seeking healthcare
services, but when young people are assured that their healthcare
providers will respect their privacy and keep their medical
records confidential, they are more likely to seek out all types
of care, including reproductive healthcare services. Missouri law
permits, but does not require, healthcare providers to inform a
parent or guardian if their minor child has been diagnosed with
or treated for pregnancy, STD, or drug or alcohol abuse. Such
disclosure should only be made when doing so is consistent
with the confidentiality policies of the practice setting and with
professional ethical guidelines, and when it is in the minor’s best
interest. The law does not permit healthcare providers to disclose
any information if the minor patient is found not to be pregnant,
afflicted with an STD, or suffering from drug or alcohol abuse.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
There are some circumstances in which confidentiality may not
be possible, including
• cases of suspected child abuse or neglect
• instances in which the minor poses a risk of harm to
self or others
• situations in which institutional billing and health
insurance claims processes result in the disclosure of
confidential information to a minor’s parents
In addition to the examples listed above, institutional policies
consistent with the HIPAA Privacy Rule may require that
confidentiality be overridden in specific circumstances.
However, unless one of the above circumstances is present,
healthcare providers should take reasonable care to protect the
medical information of their minor patients.

Moving on…

– and then ask for contraceptive or the morning after pill which is an abortifacent drug – and their parents have no knowledge about that. In fact there is even rules that say if a teen expresses to me that they’re pregnant, that they think they may be pregnant and then I do a pregnancy test and that pregnancy test is negative, I’m actually forbidden by law to discuss that with that teen’s parents.

Yes, you are forbidden if the teen does not grant you permission.

This doesn’t really strip you of any religious rights – it gives minors rights. I guess you think they shouldn’t have that right.

And maybe that’s a 13, 14 year old, and I have this parent – think about this – realistically that parent is right outside the exam room door and they have this forlorn, sad look on their face. And sometimes they cry their eyes out to me about how did my beautiful child get here to this E.R. in this condition after a rape or concerns for STD’s. And they’re so sad.  And I have to speak with them separately because their teen has asked for privacy. and I can’t by law tell this parent – who is paying for their care… and who is feeding, clothing and housing this child and most of all who loves this child so much and is brought to tears talking about their love for their child and their child’s predicament. And I can’t tell this person what their child’s needs are. That’s a violation of my conscience because I want to take the best care of this child. So we’ve already lost that right. We have lost, as parents, the right to choose our children’s healthcare providers.

How do you come to that conclusion? This is not you losing your right to choose your child’s healthcare providers. It’s giving minors the right to choose their own healthcare providers for sexual health. You could say that allowing a minor to choose his or her lunch at school strips you of the right to choose your child’s meals


This is post 15/24 by Christina for the SSA blogathon in support of the Secular Student Alliance! Go donate to them!

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.




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