HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Federal Court Rules Docs Don't Have to Report Teen Sex

The AP is reporting tonight (AP/CNN) that District Judge J. Thomas Marten in Wichita, Kansas, ruled Tuesday that "that abortion clinic doctors and other professionals are not required under Kansas law to report underage sex between consenting youths."  The Kansas City (MO) Star reported Wednesday that General Kline says an appeal is "very likely."

Judge Marten's 39-page opinion is here (PDF).  As reported by AP:

The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten was a setback for Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion foe.

Kline contended that a 1982 Kansas law requiring doctors, teachers and others to alert the state and law enforcement about potential child abuse covers consensual sex between minors. He argued that the law applies to abortion clinics, and later extended that to other health professionals and teachers.

The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged that interpretation in court, and the judge sided with the organization. Kline said he had not decided whether to appeal.

AG Kline's initial (brief) statement on the ruling is here.

The Center for Reproductive Rights' comment on the ruling is here.  According to their press release:

The judge recognized that, "Automatic mandatory reporting of illegal sexual activity involving a minor will change the nature of the relationship between a health care provider and the minor patient to some degree," and that studies establish that the kiss and tell policy would cause "a significant decrease in minors seeking care and treatment related to sexual activity."

The American Medical Association and numerous other major medical groups, including the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry and American Psychiatric Association, oppose Kline’s policy because it would deter teenagers from seeking health care and counseling, including contraceptive services and information on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. These medical organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the plaintiff’s case.

The New York Times' report is here.


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