Bill Requiring Parental Consent For Vaccination Of Children Under Consideration By Tennessee Legislature

Apr 10, 2023 | Political News

Legislation that would counteract Tennessee’s “Mature Minor” doctrine, which currently allows children across the state to secure vaccinations and certain other medical care without parental knowledge, continues to advance in the Tennessee General Assembly this week.

Tennessee’s Mature Minor Doctrine seemed to fly under the radar for many state residents 
until an uproar during the summer of 2021, following release of the Covid-19 vaccine and a Tennessee Health Department official’s encouragement of vaccinating minors without informing their parents.

This doctrine has actually been in place since Cardwell v. Bechtol (1987) which provided that mature minors who are capable of meeting the informed consent standard, also have consent authority. The doctrine was then reaffirmed by Tennessee’s Attorney General in 2003.

House Bill 1380 (HB1380) brought by Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge-District 33) would counteract the doctrine, requiring written consent of a parent or legal guardian before a healthcare professional would be able to provide any vaccinations to a minor. 

Titled the “Mature Minor Doctrine Clarification Act,” this legislation would also prohibit state agencies like the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) from providing vaccines to children in state custody without parental permission. 

However, this would only apply in circumstances where parental rights have not yet been terminated. 

Corresponding Senate Bill 1111 (SB1111) brought by Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma-District 16), has already progressed through committee and is scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor today.