Give Minors the Choice to Protect Themselves From COVID-19

Target: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Goal: Support the right of minors of a mature age to make decisions about vaccines and other medical treatments.

The woman who captained Tennessee’s vaccine and immunization program recently received her walking papers: the latest casualty in a toxic and politicized culture surrounding these potentially life-saving measures. Dr. Michelle Fiscus claims she was let go after reaching out to teenagers about COVID-19 vaccination. The doctor blasted the decision, citing months of continued abuse and disinformation by “leaders who have only their own interest in mind.” Moreover, she shared her fears for the people of Tennessee (a state with one of America’s lowest vaccination rates) who will suffer most as a much more contagious and potent variant of the virus sends hospitalization rates once again soaring. The incident that may have sparked this dismissal involves Dr. Fiscus’ citation of a rule long encoded into Tennessee law: the mature minor doctrine.

This doctrine holds that some minors possess the maturity to make their own medical decisions and do not need parental consent. States with the law can set an age when the rule goes into effect. The doctrine has long been utilized by minors seeking medical emancipation from their parents in order to get essential treatments for serious conditions or for typical childhood vaccines. The logic behind these cases is that kids should not have their health and lives possibly put at risk because of their parents’ belief systems. During a global pandemic that ramped up the anti-vaxxer movement, the numbers of minors trying to take their healthcare into their own hands has risen exponentially.

Unfortunately, minors who want this choice are often left at the mercy of where they live. Several states do not have any laws concerning the mature minor doctrine. Even in eligible states, this right is at increasing risk. Tennessee, for example, has continued to halt all vaccine outreach efforts to minors. State politicians have also begun making noise about repealing the mature minor law already in place. These so-called leaders are again putting politics above public health.

Sign the petition below to urge a national movement behind the mature minor doctrine.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

Minors seeking to protect themselves against COVID-19 are being forced to get their vaccine shots in secret. Public health officials trying to reach this population at ever-increasing risk of hospitalization from the Delta Variant are being targeted and fired. Meanwhile, in Mississippi alone, seven children are fighting for their lives in the ICU due to infection. Even children who do not immediately face the worst outcomes can still suffer severe long-term symptoms. It shouldn’t be this way.

Bodily integrity and healthcare autonomy are fundamental American rights. Minors capable of making medical decisions that could follow them the rest of their lives should not be punished simply because of their age. Many states already grant minors of a mature age the freedom to weigh and make these serious choices. Not every state provides this freedom, however. If a minor is deemed old enough to serve in the adult prison system or to make decisions about sex for themselves, he or she should be entrusted with one of the most important aspects of life: health.

Please fight for a nationwide mature minor doctrine. At the very least, give this important right to minors for treatments and procedures that can mean the difference between life and death. In the midst of a global pandemic only responsible decision-making may end, the stakes have never been higher.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: @Thiszun 

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