Federal judge disagrees with ‘Kiss and Tell’ law

Robbie Van Trump

A federal judge expressed his disagreements last week against Attorney General Phil Kline’s opinion about a state reporting statute known as the “Kiss and Tell” law.

Controversy has been stirred in the past about how words of this Kansas statute should be interpreted. At issue currently is what the legislature meant when they wrote that doctors or care providers must have “suspicion of injury” caused by neglect or abuse to make reporting of underage sex mandatory.

Kline believes that certain sexually penetrative acts should be reported, and they should be reported because underage sex is “inherently harmful” to adolescents and because it is illegal.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General’s office because they believe observing Kline’s opinion on the law would violate adolescents’ right to informational privacy and would discourage sexually active minors from seeking medical help or other types of care.

“It gives patients a reason to be untruthful with their care providers,” said Robin Jennings, a registered nurse at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Jennings, who has been a registered nurse for over 25 years believes that they only time underage sex should be reported is if there is an immediate risk to the minor or if there is clear evidence of molestation or abuse.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten, who is expected to issue a written opinion on the case this week, wanted to know how exactly underage sex is always injurious, and he also rejected Kline’s opinion that underage sex is harmful because it is illegal. The way Marten reads the legislation is different than Kline’s interpretation. Marten reads the legislation as saying that doctors or other care providers have discretion when it comes to reporting underage sex. Otherwise, lawmakers could have easily rewritten the law to be more specific.