A new bill being considered in New York State would allow any child to obtain medical treatments without parental consent. The short language of the bill states that it is to provide medical care to homeless youth. That summarized version of the bill may be agreeable, but the direct language contradicts the summary. The bill states:

“Any person, including a minor, who comprehends the need for, the nature of, and the reasonably foreseeable risks and benefits involved in any contemplated medical, dental, health, and/or hospital services, and any alternatives thereto, may give effective consent to such services for themself, and the consent of no other person shall be necessary.”

The bill makes no restriction to homeless youth or runaways. The bill also allows minors to obtain mental health treatment if the practitioner determines the following two points are true. 

“[(ii)] (B) requiring parental or guardian consent or involvement would

 have a detrimental effect on the course of outpatient treatment; or

[(iii)] (C) a parent or guardian has refused to give such consent and

 a [physician] PRACTITIONER determines that treatment is necessary and in

 the best interests of the minor.”

This language is very clear. If a practitioner decides that treatment is necessary, the parents have no right to refuse treatment if the minor consents. This vague language does not restrict the policy to certain types of treatments. The bill states that it will amend the law to allow “certain youth to give effective consent.” The underlying language clearly states that if the parent determines it is unnecessary and the practitioner disagrees, the child can effectively consent to treatment. 

This language would allow children to consent to vaccines, abortions, puberty blockers, or transition surgery if the practitioner determines it necessary. Mount Sinai is a New York hospital with federal protection that provides gender-affirming care. It is also a place where the bill’s author, Karines Reyes, previously worked. From the Mount Sinai page, it states:

“To make a diagnosis, your provider will take your medical history and, in some cases, do a full psychiatric evaluation. Gender dysphoria is diagnosed if you have had two symptoms or more for at least six months.”

In some cases, they will do a full psychiatric evaluation and only require two symptoms for at least six months. If a child were to self-report two of the symptoms, then the practitioner may decide that puberty blockers or surgery is medically necessary. Here is the list of symptoms for children, in which only two symptoms would be required to proceed with gender-affirming care treatments. 

1. Insist that they are the other gender

2. Strongly want to be the other gender

3. Want to dress in the clothes typically used by another gender and resist wearing clothes associated with their biological gender

4. Prefer to act the conventional roles of the other gender in play or fantasy

5. Prefer toys and activities conventionally thought of as of the other gender

6. Strongly prefer to play with children of the other gender

7. Feel a strong dislike of their genitals

8. Want to have the physical characteristics of the other gender

Someone who prefers to play with children of another gender and acts in the conventional roles of the other gender would be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. If the child self-reports that they have had these symptoms for at least six months, the practitioner can proceed with treatment without parental consent. 

The bill’s author, Reyes, also currently works at Montefiore Hospital, where Philip Ozuah is the president and CEO. Joel Solmonese is the Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Strategic Communications for Montefiore. Both of these men donated $4,700 respectively to Reyes’ campaign. The New York State Nurses Association has contracts with Montefiore and Mount Sinai. The NYSNA has also donated $24,000 to Reyes’ campaign. 

Reyes and three of the study’s co-sponsors are listed on the Pfizer PAC () page as having received campaign donations of $500-$1000. 

The bill’s author has a conflict of interest with her donors and former employers that would benefit from passage; the facilities could complete more treatments if they can bypass parental consent laws. In addition, both Montefiore and Mount Sinai have FTCA protections. This means any lawsuit brought against the hospitals for improper care or irreversible harm would have the United States government as the defendant rather than the hospital. This was reported in a column for The HighWire about a lawsuit brought against Fenway Health for improperly diagnosing a patient with gender dysphoria and injuring that patient through cross-sex surgeries. 

Another story published at The HighWire reported about a federal lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia for allowing minors as young as 11 to consent to COVID-19 vaccination. 

The New York bill uses some language to indicate this is only for emergency medical procedures, and parental consent should be obtained when possible. However, suppose the doctor or practitioner determines a procedure necessary for the child’s health, and it is believed the parent would not consent. In that case, the child has full authority to consent on their behalf. The ACLU of New York strongly advocates for the passage of this bill. They state, “Nationwide, more than 20 states, either through statute or judicial decision, allow mature young people to consent to their own health care.” 

The important detail left out by the NY ACLU is that other states still provide age restrictions and limit the ability to consent to certain medical procedures. Colorado, for example, requires minors to be at least 15 years of age and to be separated from their parents to consent to any medical procedure. The only exception to that rule is for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, or for minors seeking treatment as a victim of sexual abuse. The New York bill bypasses any restrictions when it allows the practitioner to make a judgment call that will have no repercussions if it is later determined to be an improper judgment. 

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution establishes parental rights, and there are several important Supreme Court cases that have upheld that right. 


Steven Middendorp

Steven Middendorp is an investigative journalist, musician, and teacher. He has been a freelance writer and journalist for over 20 years. More recently, he has focused on issues dealing with corruption and negligence in the judicial system. He is a homesteading hobby farmer who encourages people to grow their own food, eat locally, and care for the land that provides sustenance to the community.

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