Parental Consent Requirements May Increase Teen Pregnancy

A study released last Thursday found that requiring parental consent for teens seeking prescription contraceptives appears to increase teen pregnancy rates. The teen pregnancy rates of McHenry County, Illinois, which requires parental consent for teens to get prescription contraceptives, were compared with neighboring counties that don’t have these requirements, according to the American Journal of Public Health. The researcher, Dr. Madeline Zavodny, found that the rate of teen pregnancies in McHenry County showed a significant increase compared to nearby counties. Zavodny told Reuters Health that these findings show that many teen women used less birth control when they couldn’t get it at a public clinic, and that teens lack a clear knowledge of the laws regarding contraception. Many teen women didn’t know they could get birth control without parental consent at private clinics in McHenry County. While US courts ruled in the 1970s and 1980s that clinics receiving federal funds cannot require parental consent for teens seeking prescription contraceptives, Reuters Health reports that government groups have recently considered reversing this rule. McHenry County stopped receiving federal funding for its clinics in 1998 when it enacted the parental consent rules. The results of this study, Zavodny told Reuters Health, indicate that “policymakers should consider the possibility of such unintended consequences before requiring parental involvement for teens to receive contraceptives.” LEARN MORE Click here to read women’s narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services. DONATE to protect the right to a safe, legal abortion


American Journal of Public Health 8/04; Reuters Health 7/29/04

Support eh ERA banner