STATE HOUSE — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation
introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and Sen.
Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence) that allows minors to consent to
medical care involving pregnancy.
The law (2018-H 7193,
2531Aaa) provides that any person, including, but not limited to, a
minor who is pregnant, may give effective consent for medical, dental, health
and hospital services relating to prenatal, delivery, and post-delivery care.
Dr. Emily White, a Rhode Island obstetrician, gave committee
testimony, saying, “Teenage pregnancy is never an ideal situation, but it does
happen. And when it does, we want to make sure these young women receive the
best medical care. Because of the current law, there can be many barriers to
these young women receiving timely and appropriate care.”
Doctor White proceeded to give examples, such as pregnant
teens in labor who cannot be given appropriate anesthetic because they have to
wait sometimes hours for their parents to be reached to give consent.
After peaking in 1991, the U.S. teen birth rate reached a
historic low in 2015, with decreases among all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Rhode Island’s teen birth rate mirrors national trends, peaking in 1993 and
reaching an historic low in 2015, according to the Kids Count Factbook. That
year in Rhode Island, 539 babies were born to mothers under age 20, accounting
for 5 percent of all babies born — the lowest rate ever recorded.
With the passage of this legislation, Rhode Island joins 37
other states that already allow the consent of a minor in prenatal and delivery