Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Texas morons, oxy- and otherwise

Some teenagers tell their parents everything. Some tell them nothing. They want none of that in Texas. In an effort to discourage adolescent sexual activity, Texas lawmakers have passed a law that requires parental consent for girls under 18 to receive prescription contraceptives. There is more. Health care providers must report to law enforcement officials the identity of patients 17 and under who seek reproductive health care services since sexual contact with a person of this age is illegal in Texas.

Only someone brain dead would expect such a policy to have much effect on teenage sexual activity but you can be pretty sure it will have an effect on care seeking behavior in this age group. And any one with more than a couple of neurons firing could predict such a policy will be costly in dollars, projected numbers of additinal pregnancies, birth, abortions and untreated sexually transmitted infections. Now Dr. Luisa Franzini and her colleagues at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, writing in the December 2004 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, as reported by Reuters Health, have estimated just how bad it can be.
[Franzini and colleagues] estimate that 37 percent of girls would stop using reproductive health care services if parental notification were required, based on past surveys of what girls said they would do if confidentiality were not maintained.

This would result in an additional 11.45 pregnancies, 7.44 births and 2.29 abortions per 100 teenagers, costing approximately $61,000 per 100 girls.

Also, the estimated increase in sexually transmitted diseases would cost $980 per 100 teens.

The projected overall cost is approximately $43.6 million per year, Franzini's team reports. Even so, that figure underestimates "the true costs to society because they include only direct medical costs," they add.
"Fiscal conservative" seems to be just as much an oxy-moron as "compassionate conservative" these days. I guess you can say they have been brought together by a moron.