The statutory scheme in California that gives minors the right to consent to medical care is expansive, yet it retains vestiges of parental control over the minor. The age at which a minor may consent to medical care in California is 12 for most types of care, and 15 for generalized medical and dental care.264 Most types of medical care are covered: mental health, drug and alcohol abuse counseling and treatment, pregnancy care, access to contraceptives, and generalized medical and dental care. These areas of coverage are more expansive than many other states, and yet, in specific instances statutory language provides that a health care provider may contact a minor's parent or guardian to apprise him or her of the care given or needed by the minor.265
California allows a minor to consent to medical treatment at the age of 12 if the minor has come into contact with a communicable disease. That disease is required by law to be reported to the local health officer or is a sexually transmitted disease, ``as may be determined by the State Director of Health Services.''266 However, the first provision of this subsection, ``an infectious, contagious, or communicable disease,'' is overly broad and vague. This may result in California health care providers interpreting the language too narrowly or too broadly. Similar to other states studied, California includes specific language designating a minor's right to consent to contraceptives, sterilization, care for a sexually transmitted disease, drug and alcohol counseling, and mental health care.267 All of the above may be provided to a minor 12 years of age and over without a parent's consent or fiduciary responsibility.
California grants minors broad consent rights in that it provides minors 15 years of age and older to consent to their own general medical and dental care. As per §6922, a minor may give consent if they are 15 years of age or older, living separate and apart from their parent or guardian ``whether with or without the consent of a parent or guardian and regardless of the duration of the separate residence,'' and ``the minor is managing the minor's own financial affairs, regardless of the source of the minor's income.'' However, subsection (c) provides that a physician, surgeon, or dentist ``may, with or without the consent of the minor patient, advise the minor's parent or guardian of the treatment given or needed ... if the physician ... has reason to know ... the whereabouts of the parent or guardian.'' This relic of parental power is mirrored in §6929 (f) which stipulates the state shall:
The presence of the provision allowing a physician to contact a minor's parents without her consent seems indicative of the reluctance of states to fully allow minors rights normally afforded once the age of majority has been attained. Entwined with this may be the state's own deference to the ``right'' to parent, regardless of familial circumstance. Hence, California presents a comprehensive and liberal statutory scheme for minors seeking health care independent of their parent or guardian, and yet, vestiges of parental control are evinced within the same statutory provisions. However, the intricate duality of this system allows youth more liberal access to health care than in many other jurisdictions.
Inclusive or absent of the parent notification provision, the California statute which allows minors 15 years of age or older to consent to medical care is a decent framework with which Massachusetts may glean statutory language and effective goals.