Groups Urge Court to Uphold D.C.’s Minor Consent Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, leading medical groups filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to deny a motion to block the District of Columbia’s Minor Consent Act, a public health law protecting minors’ access to medical care. Democracy Forward filed the brief on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the Washington, D.C. chapter of the AAP, the Medical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC), and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM). This filing follows two related briefs filed in support of the law in August 2021. 

D.C.’s Minor Consent Act permits minors capable of informed consent to get vaccinated if they so choose in specific circumstances. The standard of care for physicians is to involve parents in medical decisions for their minor children, including vaccines. But, as the brief explains, parental involvement is sometimes impossible or impractical, like when minors are in the military, unaccompanied, or homeless. The brief also makes clear that minors should be able to get vaccinated or access other potentially life-saving care in situations where they fear punishment from their parents for doing so.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and recent Omicron wave have highlighted the critical role vaccines play in protecting children. Childhood vaccination against infectious diseases like COVID-19, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and more have been proven to prevent outbreaks and save lives,” said Democracy Forward President and CEO Skye Perryman. “The medical community as well as federal and state law have long recognized that minors are, in certain circumstances, capable of informed consent for medical care, including vaccination. D.C.’s Minor Consent Act appropriately protects minors’ access to vaccines and other vital medical services, and we will continue to urge the court to uphold it.”

Follow our work to protect the health and safety of communities during the pandemic here.

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Democracy Forward Foundation (“Democracy Forward”) is a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 that litigates cases involving government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and achieved victories supporting democracy and improving the lives and wellbeing of people and communities. Democracy Forward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

The DC AAP is the local Washington, D.C. chapter of the national American Academy of Pediatrics. The DC AAP has approximately 450 members including pediatricians, residents, and medical students from the District’s hospitals, community clinics, and school-based health centers. The Chapter’s mission is to promote the optimal health and development of children and adolescents of Washington, D.C. in partnership with their families and communities, and to support the pediatricians who care for them. 

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care. The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

With over 3,000 members, the Medical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC) is the largest medical organization representing metropolitan Washington physicians in the District of Columbia. The Medical Society, founded in 1817, is the leading voice of medicine and public health advocate on issues impacting the diverse population of our nation’s capital. MSDC is dedicated to ensuring the well-being of physicians and their patients in metropolitan Washington.  

Founded in 1968, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) is a multidisciplinary organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents through advocacy, clinical care, health promotion, health service delivery, professional development and research.

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Emily Singer
Democracy Forward
(973) 865-0063
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