In most states, minors can see a gynecologist without needing their parent's permission or consent, with some age limitations. In all states, minors can visit a public health facility for a gynecological exam without parental consent. While some services are available without consent, a minor must receive consent in some states for certain gynecological procedures. Rules vary by state.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
All states allow minors to visit a gynecologist to receive testing for sexually transmitted infections, which often requires a basic exam. Any gynecologist at a public or private facility can perform this exam and test without parental consent. However, 18 states allow the physicians to contact the parents about the results of the test if they deem it's in the best interests of the minor.
Teens are sometimes hesitant to talk to their parents about being sexually active, which is one reason why a minor might want to visit a gynecologist without parental consent. Only a doctor can prescribe female birth control, and doctors usually require a gynecological exam before they'll provide the prescription. There are 46 states that allow minors to receive birth control without parental consent as of the date of publication, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Of those 46, 20 have limitations on which minors qualify, including that the minor must be at least 12 years old, already have given birth to a child or is currently pregnant. Four states don't address minor birth control issues, including standard pregnancy tests.
When a minor is pregnant, no state laws require a doctor to notify the parents or require parental consent during the first trimester; only one requires parental consent for the second and third trimesters. Of the 32 states that address minor pregnancy in their laws, 13 allow a doctor to notify the parents if he deems it in the minor's best interests.
Although no states require parental consent for a pregnant minor to keep her baby, at least 21 states require parental consent if the minor wants to have an abortion. Two states don't require parental consent or notification, while the rest of the states require the parents to be notified of the procedure or don't address parental consent or notification in state laws. Some states that require parental notification or consent have exceptions, such as cases of incest or neglect.
- Guttmacher Institute: An Overview of Minors’ Consent Law
- Empire State Coalition: Section V Medical Treatment
- Psychology Today: Teens and Contraception: Secrecy vs. Privacy
- Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health: Facts on Parental Consent and Notification for Abortion
- Guttmacher Institute: The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images