Massachusetts law about children's health care

A compilation of laws, cases, and web sources on children's health care law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 112, § 275 Bans gay or gender identity conversion therapy for children under 18

MGL c.6A, §§ 16P-16S Yolanda's Law: Enhancing children's mental health treatment

MGL c.69, § 8A Michael's Law: Emergency response plan for schools

MGL c.111, § 24E Access to contraception

MGL c.111, § 222 Concussion and sports participation

MGL c.112, § 12E Access to drug treatment

MGL c.112, § 12F Emergency treatment of minors

Any minor may give consent to his medical ... care at the time such care is sought if (i) he is married ... or (ii) he is the parent of a child ... or (iii) he is a member of any of the armed forces; or (iv) she is pregnant or believes herself to be pregnant; or (v) he is living separate ... from his parent or legal guardian, and is managing his own financial affairs; or (vi) he reasonably believes himself to be suffering from .. any disease defined as dangerous to the public health

MGL c.112, § 12S Consent to abortion for women less than 18 years old

MGL c.123, § 10 Admission to mental health facilities

Court rules

Superior Court Standing Order 5-81: Uniform procedures regarding petitions for abortion authorization under GL c.112, § 12S.

Selected case law

Comm. v. Twitchell, 416 Mass. 114 (1993)
The parents of a seriously ill 2.5 year old child had a common law duty to seek medical treatment for their child, the violation of which, if their conduct was wanton or reckless, could support a conviction of involuntary manslaughter in the child's death, and the spiritual healing provisions of G. L. c. 273, § 1, a statute concerning child support and care, and not apply to foreclose the parents' prosecution for involuntary manslaughter.

Custody of a Minor, 375 Mass. 733  (1978)
Concluding that the child's "right to live" and the "state's duty to enforce that right" outweighed the family's interests in privacy and autonomy, the judge found the child in need of care and protection, and ordered the child committed to the legal custody of the DPW for the purpose of receiving chemotherapy. Physical custody remained with the parents so long as they obeyed the order of the court.

[D]enial of the recommended medical treatment means certain death for the minor, whereas continuation of such treatment offers him substantial hope for life.

Rosie D. v. Romney, 410 F.Supp. 2d 18 (2006) 
Massachusetts "violated ...provisions of the Medicaid Act by failing to offer necessary medical services to children in this Commonwealth who suffer from serious emotional disturbances."

Web sources

Children with special health care needs, Mass.gov
Includes links to sources of information and assistance in a wide variety of areas of children's health

Children's behavioral health initiative (CBHI), Children's Law Center
An effort by MassHealth to provide more community-based behavioral health or mental health services to youth under the age of 21 with MassHealth and who meet certain criteria. Sometimes these services are also called "Rosie D." services. Explains eligibility and more.

Concussion information, MIAA
Includes information for schools, coaches, and parents on the concussion law and concussion policies

Consent to medical treatment by minors in Massachusetts, Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project
Outlines the consent laws for minors seeking medical treatment under a variety of circumstances

Parents' how-to guide on children's mental health services in Massachusetts, 3d ed., 2011
Boston Bar Association. Includes steps for getting help, paying for services, services in your child's school, and more

Quick reference on CBHI mental health services for youth, Children's Law Center, 2013.
Massachusetts must provide "behavioral health screening, diagnostic evaluation, and an array of new behavioral health services to children up to age 21 who have MassHealth." Explains services available and how to access them.

Responding to scenes involving minors refusing treatment or transport, Office of Emergency Medical Services 1/18/05
Provides guidance to emergency medical personnel on how to respond to minors refusing treatment in accordance with Mass. law

Students with comfort care/do not resuscitate orders, Mass. Dept. of Education, November 30, 2004
In response to requests from several Massachusetts school districts, the following guidelines for the care of students with Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Orders were developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of Emergency Medicine and the MDPH Legal Office. 

Print sources

Child welfare practice in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf, chapter 21: Medical and mental health treatment for children in DSS custody

Handbook on the legal rights of minors, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, 2001

Health for teens in care: a judge's guide, by Karen Aileen Howze, ABA, 2002

Protecting children in a changing world: advocacy strategies for children's rights, by Susan F. Cole, MCLE, 2003

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: May 2, 2019
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