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Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Medical Treatment of Minors Including Pregnancy – Mississippi

Mississippi is much more proactive than Michigan in protecting the rights of young women when it comes to medical treatment.  Mississippi laws regarding Mississippi medical treatment of a pregnant minor can be found at Title 41 Mississippi Public Health Code, Chapter 41 Consent.  They are summarized below.  Generally speaking, in Mississippi, it doesn’t matter what age you are, if you are a female, you DO NOT NEED PARENTAL CONSENT FOR TREATMENT RELATED TO PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH.  The law also provides that parental consent is not required if you are minor seeking treatment for a venereal disease or if you are at least age 15 and seeking mental health treatment related to alcohol or drugs.  However, if you are a female less than age 18 and want an abortion, you must have a parent’s consent or obtain a waiver from the court.

Definition of “minor”:

Miss. Code Ann. (MSA), Title 1, Laws and Statutes, Chapter 3, Construction of Statutes, § 1-3-27, provides that the term “minor,” when used in any statute, shall include any person, male or female, under twenty-one years of age.

Consent for surgical or medical treatment on unemancipated minors:

MSA, Title 41, Public Health, Chapter 41, Surgical or Medical Procedures; Consents in General, § 41-41-3 provides for consent for surgical or medical treatment or procedures on unemancipated minors. It provides that in addition to such other persons as may be so authorized and empowered, any one of the following persons who is reasonably available, in descending order of priority, is authorized and empowered to consent on behalf of an unemancipated minor, either orally or otherwise, to any surgical or medical treatment or procedures not prohibited by law which may be suggested, recommended, prescribed or directed by a duly licensed physician:

(a) The minor’s guardian or custodian.
(b) The minor’s parent.
(c) An adult brother or sister of the minor.
(d) The minor’s grandparent.

 

Furthermore, if none of those individuals eligible to act is reasonably available, an adult who has exhibited special care and concern for the minor and who is reasonably available may act.  This adult shall communicate their assumption of authority as promptly as practicable to the individuals specified above who can be readily contacted.

Consent to medical treatment in connection with pregnancy or childbirth:

Mississippi goes even further to protect a female’s rights over medical treatment and her body, providing that any female, regardless of age or marital status, is empowered to give consent for herself in connection with pregnancy or childbirth. So, it doesn’t matter what age the female is, in Mississippi, it is her right to give consent to medical treatment in connection with her pregnancy or child’s birth.

Consent to abortion upon minor:

MSA, Title 41, Public Health, Chapter 41, Surgical or Medical Procedures; Consents, Performance of Abortions upon Minors, § 41-41-51 provides that for purposes of Sections 41-41-51 through 41-41-63, the following definitions shall apply:

(a) “Minor” means any person under the age of eighteen (18) years;

(b) “Emancipated minor” means any minor who is or has been married or has by court order or otherwise been freed from the care, custody and control of her parents;

(c) “Abortion” means the use of any instrument, medicine, drug or any other substance or device with intent to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant, with intent other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth, or to remove a dead fetus.

MSA, Title 41, Public Health, Chapter 41, Surgical or Medical Procedures; Consents in General, § 41-41-53, provides for the requirement of written consent or a petition for waiver when it comes to abortions:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, no person shall perform an abortion upon an unemancipated minor unless he or his agent first obtains the written consent of both parents or the legal guardian of the minor.

(2) (a) If the minor’s parents are divorced or otherwise unmarried and living separate and apart, then the written consent of the parent with primary custody, care and control of such minor shall be sufficient.  (b) If the minor’s parents are married and one parent is not available to the person performing the abortion in a reasonable time and manner, then the written consent of the parent who is available shall be sufficient.  (c) If the minor’s pregnancy was caused by sexual intercourse with the minor’s natural father, adoptive father or stepfather, then the written consent of the minor’s mother shall be sufficient.

 

(3) A minor who elects not to seek or does not obtain consent from her parents or legal guardian under this section may petition, on her own behalf or by next friend, the chancery court in the county in which the minor resides or in the county in which the abortion is to be performed for a waiver of the consent requirement of this section pursuant to the procedures of Section 41-41-55.

 

Consent to medical treatment of minor’s venereal disease:

MSA, Title 41, Public Health, Chapter 41, Surgical or Medical Procedures; Consents in General, § 41-41-13, provides that any physician, duly licensed to practice medicine in the State of Mississippi, or any nurse practitioner, who, in the exercise of due care, renders medical care to a minor for treatment of a venereal disease is under no obligation to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian, as applicable, or to inform such parent or guardian of such treatment.

Consent to medical treatment of 15 year old for mental or emotional problems related to alcohol or drugs:

MSA, Title 41, Public Health, Chapter 41, Surgical or Medical Procedures; Consents in General, § 41-41-14, any physician or psychologist duly licensed to practice medicine or psychology in the State of Mississippi, who in the exercise of due care consults with or prescribes medication for a minor at least fifteen (15) years of age for mental or emotional problems caused by or related to alcohol or drugs is under no obligation to obtain the consent of the spouse, parent or guardian of said minor, but said minor may consent to such treatment the same as if the minor had reached the age of majority. The licensed physician or psychologist may, but shall not be obligated to, inform the spouse, parent or guardian of a minor in the circumstances enumerated as to the treatment given or needed and the information may be given to the spouse, parent or guardian without the consent of the minor patient and over the express refusal of the minor patient. Furthermore, the parent, spouse or guardian shall not be financially liable for any such consultation unless and until they have consented to the same.

Consent regarding donations of blood by minors:

MSA, Title 41, Public Health, Chapter 41, Surgical or Medical Procedures; Consents in General, § 41-41-15, discusses donations of blood by minors.

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