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Study: Parental Notification Deters Teen Girls from Seeking Sexual Health Services

A University of Wisconsin study appearing in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that over half of teenage girls would significantly alter their use of sexual health-care services, if parental notification were mandatory for prescription contraceptives. Researchers collected 950 confidential surveys from girls ages 12 to 17, who visited any of 33 Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinics in 1999.

The data revealed that 59 percent “would stop using all sexual health care services, delay testing or treatment for HIV or other STDs, or discontinue use of specific (but not all) sexual health care services” if parental notification were involved for obtaining prescription contraceptives. Still, 99 percent said they would continue to have sexual intercourse, using condoms or having unprotected sex in lieu of prescription birth control. “Requiring parental notification for obtaining prescribed contraceptives would likely increase unintended pregnancies, abortions and out-of-wedlock births,” concluded lead study author Dr. Diane Reddy.

Currently, no state laws impose parental notification on minors seeking prescription contraceptives. However, in the last several years, 15 states as well as the US Congress have considered such legislation.

Medical groups including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the National Medical Association have long opposed parental notification requirements, saying “the health risks to adolescents are so impelling that legal barriers in deference to parental involvement should not stand in the way of needed care.”

Sources:

Associated Press 8/13/02; NY Times 8/14/02; MSNBC 8/13/02; CNN.com 8/14/02; Alan Guttmacher Institute 8/2002

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