Oregon, August 2012– Oregon ruled that fifteen year old minors can decide to undergo permanent sterilization without parental consent with new Obamacare program. That opens up questions as to Oregon’s view of appropriate age of consent.
Consent is defined as “an act of reason and deliberation” by someone “who possesses and exercises sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent decision.”
According to Catholic Online, “The “Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states: Non-grandfathered plans and issuers are required to provide coverage without cost-sharing consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year that begins on or after August 1, 2012.All [FDA] approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”
For now, Oregon has decided that the appropriate age of consent and reproductive capacity is fifteen (of course there are much younger girls who’ve had babies so this could change).
To add to the confusion on the ability to give informed consent, the assessment of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, reports that brain development in teens mean they are “less likely to:
- Think before they act.
- Pause to consider the potential consequences of their actions.
- Modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors.
To further complicate matters, Oregon’s laws regarding other important situations requiring consent or taking “adult” responsibility seems inconsistent.
Here are just a few examples:
The equity of adult decision making or parental consent in Oregon-
- Teen drivers (with a permit) under the age of eighteen must have someone twenty-one or older sitting with them in the front seat of a car when driving. You must also have parental consent to obtain a drivers license if you are under eighteen.
- Marriage in Oregon requires that seventeen year old minors “must obtain the written consent of their parent or guardian” in order to marry. They must also have two witnesses eighteen years or older to attend as witnesses.
- School field trip permission– “Your child almost always needs your [parent or guardian] written permission to go on field trips,” according to Lawyers.com.
- The age of consent for sex in Oregon is eighteen. If under eighteen, Oregon law classifies most sex as sexual abuse, or rape depending on the age gap of the participants. (ORS 163.345 – ORS 163-425).
- Oregon Juvenile offenders tried for adult crimes– “Juveniles as young as age 15 are automatically placed in adult court for Measure 11 criminal charges,” according to the Law Offices of Steven Sherlag. Measure 11 crimes include rape (see above).
- Reporting sexual child abuse– Reporting child abuse is mandatory for many Oregon employees. However, “Oregon law does not make all sexual activity of a teen under the age of 18 illegal…many teens do not have a clear understanding of the difference between consensual and abusive relationships,”(Oregon.gov).
- Oregon legal definition of a minor or juvenile- “A minor is any person under the age of 21 and a juvenile is any person under the age of 18.”
- Oregon Labor Laws– Minors are not allowed to operate dangerous machinery.
- Oregon age of consent for medical and dental procedures– “Minors who are 15 years or older are able to consent to medical and dental services without parental consent. This includes hospital care, as well as medical, dental, optometric and surgical diagnostic care,” according to the Oregon Health Authority.
- Legal voting age in Oregon– Eighteen
- Legal drinking age in Oregon– Twenty-one with the exception for minors and alcohol in Oregon (below).
- Minors and alcohol in Oregon- Oregon law prohibits anyone, “except a parent or legal guardian, from providing alcohol to a minor or juvenile.”
- Minors and R rated movies– Under eighteen? You must have permission or be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to see an R rated movie. This decision rests with parents according to Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, “All R-rated films are not alike. It is the parents’ responsibility to make specific judgments about R films — and wrong to give a blanket endorsement to all.”
- Attending school- http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/339.030″All children between the ages of 7 and 18 years who have not completed the 12th grade are required to attend regularly a public full-time school of the school district in which the child resides” (339.030 Exemptions from compulsory school attendance). Failure to comply can bring about court action on the parent or legally responsible adult.
- Getting a tattoo in Oregon- It is illegal to tattoo “on persons under 18 years of age, regardless of parental consent…as defined in OAR 331-550-0000(8).”
- Legal age to sign a contract in Oregon– Most contracts signed by minors in Oregon are not allowed. There are a few exceptions, however.