Every time I think I’ve heard it all, I come across a story that shows I still have the capacity to be shocked.
Catholic Online’s Stephanie Zawada dropped this bomb today. I’m pretty sure I started shouting something incomprehensible at my monitor, because all my kids came running to ask me what was going on. (I didn’t tell them.)
Forget the milestones of obtaining a driver’s license at 16 and being able to legally drink at 21 – getting sterilized at 15 is now the first step in the social maturity process of an American youth.
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.”
Under Oregon State Law, the state’s revised statutes (ORS) defines “informed consent” for 15-year-olds independently pursuing reproductive sterilization as being “(a) Based upon a full understanding of the nature and consequences of sterilization pursuant to information requirements set forth in ORS 436.225(1); (b) Given by an individual competent to make such a decision; and (c) Wholly voluntary and free from coercion, express or implied.”
Oregon’s consent form, specific for the sterilizations of 15 to 20-year-olds, reads, “I understand that the sterilization must be considered permanent and not reversible. I have decided that I do not want to become pregnant, bear children or father children.” In the case that the patient does not speak or read English, an interpreter is permitted to assist the patient “to the best of [his] knowledge and belief” in the signing away of the patient’s reproductive capacity.
I distinctly remember being 15, and regardless of the moral dimension of sterilization, I can’t possibly fathom having had the maturity, foresight, or even the desire to make such a decision at such an early age. I was way too busy trying to figure out how to meet a girl who would actually like me to even consider trying to figure out how to not have kids with her. (I believe I also played a lot of video games. And I didn’t need to shave regularly. And I couldn’t even get a real job because I wasn’t even flipping sixteen yet.)
My oldest daughter turned 15 yesterday. She isn’t ready to be in any kind of relationship, let one that might prompt considering elective sterilization even if it wasn’t against everything our family believes in. She doesn’t even know what she wants to study in college yet. How could she possibly know whether or not she wants to render herself completely unable to ever bear children?
I won’t begin to pretend I understand what motivates legislators who write such malevolent policies into law. We are talking about Oregon, America’s euthanasia “physician assisted suicide” pioneer. (I wonder if they have a license plate option with that as the motto?) But the Affordable Care Act empowers this kind of Orwellian nonsense. I’d like to believe that at some point in the future, a bunch of former teenagers who permanently signed away the capacity to reproduce before they’d even matured enough to realize there’s no reason to listen to Justin Bieber – ever – would sue the pants off the state. But we all know how likely that is to make it past a judge.
There has to be a tipping point, right? At some point, decent American citizens are going to come out of their sugar-fueled, reality TV comas and say, “You know, this isn’t the kind of country we want to live in anymore. We need to fix it!” How far do we have to get pushed before we push back? Every election, no matter how small, should be a nightmare for candidates who support this kind of legislation.