Vitale Bill Would Allow Minors to Consent to Medical Treatment

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale, to clarify minors’ rights to consent to medical or surgical care, was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.

“Health care professionals work hard every day to provide the best possible care to minors, but often the rules about their consent prohibits teens from getting necessary medical treatment,” said Senator Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “There is currently a law that says minors can consent to treatment, but this bill would set the minimum age for consent at 13 years old.

Senator Vitale’s bill, S-2481, would amend current law to clarify that a minor’s rights to consent to medical care and testing extends to minors who are at least 13 years old. The bill also allows minors to consent to testing and treatment if they believe that they may be infected with HIV/AIDS.

According to Senator Vitale, “Some minors don’t feel comfortable reaching out for advice, and do not get tested and treated for diseases like HIV/AIDS. I don’t want to see the youth of New Jersey get sicker because they were not able to seek confidential treatment,” added Senator Vitale.

“If children are sexually active or have fallen victim to sexual abuse, it is important that they receive medical help,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “I understand and value parents wanting to be actively involved in their children’s lives. No one doubts the valuable advice a child would obtain from being able to discuss confidential medical issues with a caring parent, but if they are unable to do so, for any reason, minors should have the opportunity to seek testing and treatment.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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