New bill aims to change state laws that prevent pregnant teens from consenting to care

Posted at 6:12 PM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 18:12:01-04

One nurse practitioner remembers back to 2011 when she met a teen who would lead her on a si year journey.

"At that point I was working in labor and delivery at one of the area hospitals" Maureen Sweeney recalled. "She was a runaway. She had no family with her. She was staying on the streets in between friends' houses."

Sweeney says the teen had minimal pre-natal care and as her labor pains worsened, she requested an epidural.

"When we went to talk to anesthesia about it, they said she could not consent to it, because she is a minor," said Sweeney.

Sweeney says that wasn't an option for the teen. At 3:30 in the morning, she couldn't reach a social services worker.

"Like you could see her going through it alone. She couldn't turn to us for help and that was really sad," Sweeney said.

In Ohio, where the teen pregnancy rate is above the national average, this wasn't the only example of the gap in coverage that Sweeney had endured. However, it was the one that led her to contact state representative Nickie Antonio.  

"I knew that this issue really deserved and required our attention... So we began to develop legislation," said Antonio.

Repersentative Kristin Boggs helped draft the bill which the two lawmakers will introduce as House Bill 302 next session.

"So the bill charts access to health care when the young woman is pregnant, labor and delivery all the way to post natal," said Antonio.