A measure voted through the Oklahoma Senate would require parental consent for minors to access birth control or vaccinations.

Senate Bill 1225 would give parents more control of health care choices for their children. It would require schools and health professionals to get consent from parents before administering vaccinations and female contraceptives.

The bill’s author, Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, began the discussion of the bill with a story that motivated its existence.

“The school loaded up a busload of girls, brought them to the (Tulsa) county health office and injected them with three years of contraception, never did tell the parents,” he said.

Tulsa Health Department officials responded to the comments made by Bullard about the agency serving Tulsa County by saying parental involvement is encouraged.

“Tulsa Health Department provides services to clients who come to a clinical service location. THD works with multiple community partners to assist clients with transportation needs for services,” Preventive Health Division Chief Priscilla Haynes said. “Under Title X guidelines, young people of reproductive age can make decisions on their own and may self-consent for family planning services at THD.”

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Bullard said his measure is more about getting parents informed than limiting contraception.

“We’re not banning girls from taking it,” Bullard said during discussion on the Senate floor Wednesday. “Just banning the health departments and schools from administering it to them.”

Upon questioning from Sen. Carri Hicks on the language of the measure applying to any health professional, Bullard added hospitals to his list of potential providers.

Bullard said the bill has no protection for a minor who doesn’t report they are a sexual assault victim.

Minors would be able to obtain contraceptive services without parental consent if they’ve been pregnant before, he said.

Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, began debate on the bill by mentioning how many abortion-restricting measures have already passed in the Senate this session.

“We cannot pass this bill,” Kirt said, “and reduce abortion. This bill limits … all the reasonable ways to reduce teen pregnancy.”

Oklahoma remains among the states with the highest teen birth rate, according to a study last year. Compared to the national rate of 16.6 per 1,000 females age 15-19, the teen birth rate in Oklahoma is 27.4.

In addition to contraceptive uses, birth control may be prescribed to relieve menstrual irregularities or painful ovulation, both commonly reported by young women.

“Boys don’t need parental consent to buy condoms, but girls do for birth control?” Hicks asked Bullard, noting the measure seems to apply only to female health.

Some parents may object to contraceptives as a religious belief. The practice has led health care professional organizations to respond that “the potential health risks to adolescents if they are unable to obtain reproductive health services are so compelling that legal barriers and deference to parental involvement should not stand in the way of needed health care for patients who request confidentiality.”

A floor substitute for the measure added vaccines to health care decisions that require parental consent for minors. The COVID-19 pandemic reignited debate on whether minors should be able to obtain vaccinations without parental consent.

The bill passed 31-11 and moves to the House for consideration.