Congratulations Dr. Lee Beers
Confidentiality and access to timely, appropriate medical care are the rights of adolescents seeking to terminate a pregnancy, according to an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Genuine concern for the best interests of minors argues strongly against mandatory parental consent and notification laws,” the statement authors wrote in the updated policy statement, “The Adolescent’s Right to Confidential Care When Considering Abortion,” published online in Pediatrics.
The AAP Committee on Adolescence, which wrote the policy statement, encourages adolescents to voluntarily involve their parents – or other adults they trust – in decisions surrounding an unintended pregnancy, stating that teens who do will “likely benefit from adult experience, wisdom, emotional support, and financial support.” However, the policy statement also stresses that legally emphasizing parental involvement over a teen’s autonomy can result in barriers to care when timely access is most crucial, especially if a teen is reluctant to tell her parents of the situation (Pediatrics. 2017. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-3861).
Angela Bell, MD
Second Year Resident Children’s National Hospital
Co-Chair, Communication Committee, DC AAP
For those of you who are not aware, our very own Dr. Lee Beers has been elected as the new President-Elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Beers is a is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Medical Director for Community Health and Advocacy within the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health and Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Hospital. Dr. Beers is also the Founding Director of the DC Mental Health Access in Pediatrics Program and Co-Director of the Early Childhood Innovation Network. Dr. Beers has served as a past president of the DC Chapter and various leadership roles with AAP. Her dedication and passion for serving children and adolescents in the Washington D.C area, along with the families who care for them has been evident throughout her many years of service both personally and professionally. She will now be able to share that passion with infants, children and adolescents all over the nation as she steps into her new leadership role.
AB: What was your greatest accomplishment in your role as DC AAP President?
LB: One of the things I am most proud of that the Chapter accomplished while I was DC AAP President was the formation and leadership of the Adolescent Health Working Group, with funding from a local private foundation. Led by Dr Krishna Upadhya, this was a multi-disciplinary, cross-agency group which included partners from health, non-profits and government who came together to focus on improving care for adolescents in DC. Together we were able to accomplish a great deal, including increased funding in the city budget for teen pregnancy prevention and important work on school based health centers. The Workgroup also was able to focus on areas of our strategic plan, and was an excellent opportunity for membership engagement.
AB: What advice would you give to members on how to improve health outcomes for children?
LB: The two most important things are to be persistent and patient, and to work together with all of your partners—including families and community members—towards a common goal of health equity. Improving health outcomes for children is a continuous journey, and will have successes and setbacks. Be willing to learn from what went well and what didn’t, and use what you have learned to continuously improve. By working together, and lifting up everyone’s unique skills and knowledge, you will have an even greater impact.
AB: What would you like to accomplish as AAP President?
LB: My three priorities as AAP President will be to 1) Support the AAP as we continue to be a strong voice advocating for children and families, 2) Increase diversity and inclusion across all levels of the AAP in order to further strengthen and grow the organization and 3) Use our skills as child health advocates to also advocate for pediatricians—improving systems so that we can all best provide care to patients and families with minimal administrative burden.
AB: What do you see as the greatest opportunity and challenge as you step into this new role?
LB: There is a great deal of polarization in our country and world today, and sometimes the needs of children and families become lost in that. The challenge and the opportunity is to rise above this division– learning from many different perspectives and viewpoints—to focus on how we best support children and families to allow them to be healthy and thrive in generations to come.