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Reply to: Gayl M. Manthei Health & Public Assistance Tel: (919) 716-6855 Fax: (919) 716-6758

August 25, 1999

Dr. David King, Chairman Rowan Board of Health Rowan County Department of Health 2728 Old Concord Road Salisbury, NC 28146-1338

RE: Advisory Opinion: Minor’s Consent for Health Services;

G.S. § 90-21.5, G.S. § 7B-3400.

Dear Dr. King:

You have asked whether G.S. § 7B-3400 (formerly G.S. § 110-44.1), which provides that minors are subject to the supervision and control of their parents “notwithstanding any other provision of law”, abrogates G.S. § 90-21.5, which specifies the circumstances under which minors can consent to health services. Under the applicable rules of statutory construction, statutes which are in pari materia, i.e., which relate to or are applicable to the same matter or subject, must be construed together in order to ascertain legislative intent, and should be reconciled with each other when possible. Howell v. Morton, _____ N.C. App. _____, 508 S.E.2d 894 (1998).

In this case, the two statutes in question address different issues and do not conflict with one another. Even if they could be construed to address the same issue and be in conflict, general principles of statutory construction would make it clear that G.S. § 90-21.5 controls the Board’s authority on the particular issue you have raised.

As noted above, the two statutes in question do not appear to be in conflict. G.S. § 90-21.5 addresses a minor’s right to consent to certain specified medical services. G.S. § 7B-3400, on the other hand, establishes the legal basis by which a parent may compel a child to return to the home under judicial procedures set out in Article 34. There is no indication that the provisions of G.S. § 7B-3400 were intended to apply to situations beyond those delineated in Article 34. Furthermore, the fact that the law generally permits a parent to supervise and control children would not operate to eliminate rights vested in children by the Constitution and the general statutes.

Dr. David King, Chairman August 25, 1999 Page 2

Chapter 7B of the General Statutes contains the North Carolina Juvenile Code. The purpose of the Juvenile Code is to provide procedures for hearing juvenile cases, screening delinquency claims, taking children into temporary custody during investigation of abuse and neglect claims and other similar matters. Within Article 34 of the Code, G.S. § 7B-3400 provides that juveniles under 18 years of age are subject to the supervision and control of their parents unless they are married, serving in the armed forces or emancipated. G.S. § 7B-3404 provides that in order to enforce the provisions of Article 34, a juvenile’s parent must file a verified complaint that must allege “that the defendant juvenile has left home or has left the place where the juvenile has been residing and refuses to return and comply with the direction and control of the plaintiff ...” G.S. § 7B-3404 (emphasis added). Other provisions of this statute allow the judge to order a juvenile to appear before the court or to order the sheriff to enter other premises to search for the juvenile and serve the order. The court may also order other named defendants not to harbor the juvenile on their premises or in their homes. All of the contemplated actions involve the return of a child who has left home. Thus, Article 34 of the Juvenile Code is intended to provide parents a way to return runaways to their homes and to their general supervision. This does not, in our opinion, conflict in any way with G.S. § 90-21.5, which allows minors to consent to specified medical services.

Even if it could be argued that a conflict exists between the two statutes, the tenets of statutory construction would dictate that G.S. § 90-21.5 controls. Where there are two provisions, one which treats a subject matter in detail and the other which deals more generally with that subject matter, the particular provision controls, especially when the particular provision is the later enactment. Town of Pine Knoll Shore v. Evans, 331 N.C. 361, 416 S.E.2d 4 (1992). G.S. § 90-21.5 is both the more specific statute and the later enactment. G.S. § 7B-3400 speaks to the general supervision and control that parents have over their children. G.S. § 90-21.5 addresses specific exceptions to that general supervision to allow minors to consent to certain types of medical treatment. G.S. § 90-21.5 is clearly a more specific statute intended by the legislature to address the narrower issue of consent for medical services.

G.S. § 7B-3400 is a recodification of G.S. § 110-44.1, which was enacted in 1969 (Chapter 1080, s.1, 1969 Sess. Laws). The language which provides that minors are subject to the supervision and control of their parents “notwithstanding any other provision of law” was contained in the original 1969 version. Subsequent to that enactment, the legislature enacted G.S. § 90-21.5 to allow minors to consent for medical treatment for detection of and treatment of certain communicable diseases. (Chapter 35, 1971 Sess. Laws). The provision which authorizes minors to consent for medical health services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of pregnancy was added by the legislature in 1977. (Chapter 582, 1977 Sess. Laws). Thus, the enactment of the minor’s consent statute postdated the enactment of the statute which subjects minors to the supervision and control of their parents “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

Dr. David King, Chairman August 25, 1999 Page 3

For the foregoing reasons, the legislature has intended for G.S. § 90-21.5 to address specifically the Rowan County Health Department’s authority to dispense birth control methods to minors. Even if the provisions of G.S. § 7B-3400 could be interpreted to apply to the facts of the Board’s request, the legislature’s later enactment of the specific terms found in G.S. § 90-21.5 would serve to supersede G.S. § 7B-3400 and would control the Department’s authority on the issue in question.

Very truly yours,

Ann Reed Senior Deputy Attorney General

Gayl M. Manthei Special Deputy Attorney General