After running up against an alleged state law that sweeps aside parental rights, a Michigan mom is warning parents about the direction health care is headed in America.
The mother of a 17-year-old daughter was shocked by what she believed to be a foreboding sign of the times when she arrived at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. Fearing her parental rights had stealthily been swept out from under her, here's what she had to say:
"Let's get one thing straight: no doctor or nurse is going to sequester my children in an exam room and talk to them privately. Period."
Arriving at the doctor's office to have her daughter's foot checked out for a recent appointment, Christy Duffy came face-to-face with a sign posted on the receptionist window stating that new laws "require a nurse to have a short 5-minute private conversation with your child." (See below)
"I asked if this policy was in effect and if so, how could I opt out," Duffy explained in her blog post. "The receptionist told me it's a new law and there is no opting out."
Both sides stood their ground.
"Working to keep my cool, I said, 'I'm sure there is,'" Duffy recounted. "She said, 'No there isn't.' At which point I asked if I needed to leave and go to the urgent care center because I was not submitting my daughter to such a conversation."
At this hospital, evidently, parental rights were something that simply weren't tolerated.
"That did not go over well," Duffy explained. "The receptionist closed the window … Almost immediately the office manager turned the corner and said, 'Mrs. Duffy, may I speak with you?' She said there was a new policy that would allow a child to access his/her medical records online and the child would be allowed to block a parent from viewing the website."
Then the confidential nurse-to-child conversation was addressed.
"The nurse would also inform my children that the doctor's office is a safe place for them to receive information about STDs, HIV and birth control," Duffy continued. "That is what the nurse would be chatting about with my children without any pesky parental oversight."
This message was received with composure, but not compliance.
"I kindly informed her that no one would be talking with my children privately, and I needed to know how to opt out of this policy before bringing Amy back for her physical next month," Duffy relayed. "By this time, the doctor was ready to see Amy, so I had to cut the conversation short because I was not letting my girl out of my eyesight or earshot … Not when it was clear that these people were angling to undermine my parental authority."
Duffy then took a moment to warn parents about the direction that health care is heading across America.
"Make sure this is crystal clear: what they want to do is talk to your child about sex and drugs (maybe rock and roll – who knows?) without your input," Duffy asserts. "Is it really such a stretch to imagine that a doctor who does not value abstinence before marriage would encourage your daughters – as young as 12! – to receive birth control?"
She offered her warning to parents of sons, as well.
"Is it really such a stretch to imagine a nurse telling a young boy – because a 12-year-old boy is a BOY – that she will give him condoms so he can be 'safe?'" Duffy adds. "Is this what you want told to your children without the ability to filter the info through your worldview?"
Duffy clarifies that she understands there is a time and place for questioning, but that medical professionals should not be given the unconditional right to intervene themselves within family affairs.
"Should a doctor ever ask to speak to a child without parental consent?" she poses. "If he/she suspects abuse, then of course. But short of evidence of abuse, a doctor should not need to speak to a child alone."
But she makes her position quite clear and has no intention of backing down from her role and right to be the primary protectorate and caregiver of her own children.
"I am the Mom," Duffy proclaims. "I will pick who can talk to my kids about sex and drugs. And rock-n-roll, for that matter."
Hospital: Um ... our bad
Not long after Duffy protested and inquired about the legitimacy of the alleged policy to be implemented on 12- to 17-year-olds, the sign was taken down. Soon afterwards, a representative from the hospital's privacy department told her that an employee had "jumped the gun" by posting the sign, informing her that she didn't have to opt out because no law exists mandating parental consent to a nurse to have a private conversation with her daughter.
After scouring the Michigan Legislature website, the posted statement that "New Michigan Medical Records access laws have been put in place," has been found to be false, meaning that, contrary to what the hospital told Duffy, minors do not have the right to block parental access to his or her medical records online.
Yet at Title X funded agencies, such as Planned Parenthood, parents do need their child's consent to access his or her medical records. Furthermore, minors can block their parents' access to their medical records when they receive sexually transmitted disease detection and treatment, as well as drug abuse services by medical providers.
On the other hand, according to TheBlaze, the Michigan Medical Records Access Act states nothing about any mandatory private conversations between minors and nurses, let alone any state law about minors receiving access to contraceptives without the consent of their parents.
In fact, the hospital later admitted its falsified dissemination of information.
"We made a mistake as we worked to implement new information systems at Sparrow for minors and we apologize for the error," the hospital released in a statement earlier this month regarding its failed attempt to accurately relay state and federal laws that give minors the ability to receive prenatal, pregnancy, drug abuse, STD and contraceptive services without parental knowledge or consent. "Sparrow will not be implementing mandatory private conversations with adolescent patients."
When TheBlaze asked Sparrow Hospital whether the sign misled any children to have confidential conversations with nurses, it replied that "The sign was intended to give people a heads-up, and we're not aware of any private visits being completed."
It's about gov't control ... and money
But Duffy insists that the fight over the right to protect her children is far from over, as she indicates that the State is well on its way in its conquest to take control of children's health and social behavior.
"Regardless what health care provider you choose, please know that no one has the right to remove you from your child's exam room." Duffy argues. "Perhaps if more of us stood up for our rights as parents, this ludicrous undermining of parental authority might end."
She discounts those who might accuse her of a right-wing conspiracy theory.
"But I'm not an alarmist," Duffy insists. "I have not wanted to believe this was happening in our country. I'm not crazy – not that kind, anyway. I listen to NPR more than talk radio. And y'all know I'm not into farming, camping or living anywhere without serious, made possible by-the-grid facilities … I just want to live with running water, Internet access and my God-given parental rights intact."
In fact, Duffy has inside sources that she says confirm the direction that the government is headed.
"I have dear friends who work at this medical group, trusted doctors who treat patients in the best way they know how," Duffy notes. "One of the doctors said, 'The realities are that the government has more and more control and our hands are being forced in certain directions due to reimbursement issues.' It's all about control and money."
The stalwart mom injects this bit of advice to her fellow parents:
"Here is what all parents need to know: there is NO law requiring a nurse to have a private conversation with your child," Duffy informs. "If a doctor asks you to step out of the exam room so she can talk with your child, please know you do not have to comply. The doctor cannot force you to leave."
She ends with an exhortation to all Americans who hold the safety and moral upbringing of their children dear to them.
"Parents, do not miss out on the opportunity to graciously but firmly say that you will be in charge of what your children hear about their medical well-being, including sex and drugs and other hot-button, values-based issues," Duffy concludes. "These children are gifts for us to steward; do not give up that responsibility and privilege."
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