Shackleford: New law will improve medical services for pregnant minors

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INDIANAPOLIS – A new law co-authored by State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) will make it easier for minors who are pregnant to receive health services in Indiana.

Public Law 139 (House Enrolled Act 1547) will enable minors who are 16 or 17 years old to receive health care if they are pregnant, in labor, or postpartum without obtaining the consent of a parent or guardian. The law, which takes effect July 1, was approved by Gov. Eric Holcomb in April after receiving unanimous final consent in both the Indiana House and Senate.

“I believe this law will help us address some of the concerns about Indiana’s maternal mortality rates, which are already among the worst in the nation,” Shackleford said. “Right now, pregnant minors must receive parental consent in order to receive certain medications from physicians during delivery. We have to think about the safety of the mother and the baby and make sure they can receive the care they need.”

According to America’s Health Rankings compiled by the United Health Foundation, Indiana’s maternal mortality rate was twice the national average in 2018 and the 7th worst in the nation. The report found that 7.4 infant deaths occurred per 1,000 live births in Indiana in 2018, compared to 5.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births nationwide.

“This law does require a health care provider to make a reasonable effort to contact a parent or guardian before proceeding, but if the mother’s life is in danger, basic care can take place,” Shackleford said. “These are the types of moves we need to be making to ensure that we have healthy moms and healthy babies.”

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