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Parental notification is a tough topic. States vary widely in what is allowed for a teen to do without permission from their parents. The laws can include nearly anything, right down to whether a teen can get pierced ears or a tattoo.

The way the laws are written, it is so that "youths who have not reached their 18th birthday have the right to seek medical and mental health treatment without the parent's or guardian's consent."

Obviously, just by reading this, you can see why it exists. Perhaps a family simply doesn't believe in going to a doctor, but a teen feels very ill and wants help. Perhaps a teen is gay and wants counseling, but doesn't want to tell her or his parents. And, perhaps a teen is pregnant and knows that to tell her parents will lead to physical and/or emotional harm. Sadly, there are situations like this that exist in all kinds of families, and the laws say that the children have the right to seek help. We would hope that a scared, pregnant teen would have another caring adult in their lives to turn to, but that's just not always the case.

Here's what Planned Parenthood reports on their web site:

Seven states currently have laws not in effect because of court challenges.

Twenty-five states currently have parental consent laws on the books.

Eleven states have parental notification laws on the books.

Seven states and Washington, D.C. have no laws regarding this.

In some states, a grandparent, other family member over the age of 25, counselor, or physician may substitute for a parent. The parental notification law in Delaware only applies to youths under 16.

Here's the status of all the state laws:

In regards to the question about the IUD: A teen can't make that decision by herself. She can, however, get counseling about birth control, and at that point it would be between her and her doctor as to which forms of birth control are most appropriate.

Doctors don't tend to like IUDs for teens because it's more common for them to come out in a female body if she hasn't yet had a baby. It may come out without the person even knowing, leaving her unprotected from pregnancy. Here's a health page geared toward teens about IUDs:


February 6, 2009 - 10:15am


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