I always tried to help my patients. That didn’t mean always giving them what they wanted. I was trained to look to the goal of health.

And then there is the law. It seems the doctor patient relationship is in the Idaho legislature’s crosshairs. No wonder so many physicians are finding this state unwelcoming.

We must accept that there is evil amongst us. And we must be vigilant and loving.

Parents and relatives are not always kind. I have not always been kind. Please forgive me for this.

Parents and relatives can be evil. We must be vigilant.

If you don’t think the Idaho legislature accepts this, then you should watch the incredible Idaho Senate floor debate of February 27th, 2024.

The Senate session starts with the Majority leader asking his colleagues to support removing the statute of limitations for incest. It turns out, Idaho code had not included that crime when it specified which crimes were exempt from limitations from prosecution through time. His very moving testimony described a prosecutor that came to him, told him of a case of incest where revelations expanded the perpetrators, but prosecution could not proceed because of this flaw in the law. His colleagues agreed and this bill passed unanimously.

So, Idaho Senators can understand that incest occurs and should be prosecuted. They know there is evil and are doing their best to help our state laws deal with it.

But then, the tables turn.

On that same day, in those same Senate Chambers a couple hours later a different bill came up. The Senate Majority leader was the sponsor for this one also.

This bill would prohibit any treatment, counseling, procedure on a minor patient (under 18) without the parents’ consent. Further, all medical records of the minor child would be available to the parents for their review. The exceptions to this would require a court order, or a law enforcement request to deny the parents’ access.

Here he argued that parents are the best stewards of a child’s wellbeing. Just a couple hours earlier he was arguing for removing the limitations on prosecuting incest.

So, parents or relatives who sexually abuse a child should not escape prosecution. But a child cannot confide confidentially to a health care provider. They must first go to law enforcement or the courts.

It seems we need to be teaching the Idaho laws in middle school, maybe grade school. Police are your friends, not doctors.

Health care providers, counsellors, teachers, ministers are “required reporters”. Idaho law has that clearly defined. If there has been an allegation or a suspicion of abuse, these professionals are required to report such to law enforcement, under penalty of prosecution. So, we have these crosshairs on us already.

But just imagine.

I am in an exam room with a 15-year-old who seems distressed. I discuss their situation with them. Their mother is in the waiting room. The teen shares their worries with me. I ask them, “Have you talked with your parents about this?” They shake their head. “Is there anything more I need to know?”

They look at me, wondering just whose side I am on. Wondering, who will I be talking to.

My standard response was to always encourage communication with their parents. But I outlined the limits of just what could be kept confidential. I tried to help.

With this law, those limits of confidentiality will now significantly shift.

I guess it comes down to just what you see as the role of government. Do our laws protect the weak and powerless from abuse or enforce the authority of the powerful?

I think it’s pretty clear which side of this scale the Idaho legislature is placing their thumb.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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