A bill filed in the Maryland House of Delegates could restrict how minors get access to some contraceptive devices.
House bill 53 would make it so minors across the state would need parental permission before they could get an intrauterine device (IUD) or the implantable rod, a type of birth control that goes into the arm.
Currently, Maryland law says minors have the same right as adults to consent to medical treatment or advice about contraception other than sterilization.
The bill would not target all types of contraception. The birth control pill and the birth control patch, which are not considered invasive, would not need parental permission under the bill.
Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington), who sponsored the bill, said it is the result of an incident in Baltimore where a minor received a Nexplanon implant that was improperly placed without parental permission. The 16-year-old girl had medical issues from the implant, and her mother did not know what was causing them because she did not know about the implant, Parrott said.
“That story was very disturbing,” he said.
The bill is meant to be narrow, he said, and Parrott is open to making it more narrow, focusing only on school-based health centers if that would be appropriate, he said.
"The issue really is parents having no knowledge at all," Parrott said. "And then seeing that their daughter had a minor surgery, and then, you know, it is the case here, was pretty horrific."
The bill would not apply to non-invasive forms of birth control, like the pill, he said.
The Baltimore case is what also drew Del. Lauren Arikan (R-Baltimore and Harford) to co-sponsor the bill. Like Parrott, she said that there are other non-invasive birth control methods.
"There’s other forms of birth control that are less invasive … this really focuses on things that are really invasive … not that oral birth control doesn’t cause real issues, [but] this is specifically for things that have serious health concerns," Arikan said.
Sponsoring the bill is personal for Del. Ric Metzgar (R-Baltimore), he said. His wife had side effects from the rod implant, he said.
His personal opinion is that mothers should be with their daughters when birth control is discussed. He did not think a bill requiring parental permission would restrict access to birth control.
“Young people are going to do what they are going to do,” Metzgar said.
All forms of contraception will have some side effects and risks, said Margaret Manning, community health nurse with the Frederick County Health Department.
The pill, which has been around for a long time, is a mix of hormones, Manning said. Women can get it from their general practitioner or their gynecologist. There are many different combinations of hormones for the pill, she said.
With the pill, people can experience breakthrough bleeding, headaches and bloating, as well as nausea, symptoms that can happen in the beginning but often go away with use.
There are also long-acting reversible contraceptives, like IUDs and the arm implant. Those are the ones targeted by the House bill.
With the IUD, there can be extra bleeding after the insertion, Manning said. The arm implant can also lead to extra bleeding, said Miriam Dobson, director of the health department’s Community Health Services.
Those with higher blood pressure and underlying health conditions can experience adverse effects from birth control, Dobson said.
The health department cannot offer opinions on the bill, Dobson said, as it must remain neutral and speculative.
The state legislative session began Wednesday so it is too early to tell how the bill will do. Parrott will be speaking with other delegates and state senators. He plans on seeing if there is a senator willing to cross file a similar bill.