Mandated parental notification laws concerning prescription contraception would affect teenagers

Rachel K. Jones, Ph.D., and colleagues with the Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York, N.Y., conducted a study in which 1,526 female adolescents younger than 18 years (minors) seeking reproductive health services at 79 national family planning clinics were surveyed between May 2003 and February 2004.

Legislation has been proposed that would mandate parental notification for minors obtaining prescription contraception from federally funded family planning clinics. In 2001, an estimated 917,000 female minors obtained family planning services at federally funded clinics. This study was conducted to determine how legislation would impact teens seeking these services.

Sixty percent of minors reported that a parent or guardian knew they were accessing sexual health services at the clinic. Fifty-nine percent of all adolescents would use the clinic for prescription contraception even if parental notification were mandated. This response was less common (29.5 percent) among adolescents whose parents were unaware of their clinic visits and more common (79 percent) among those whose parents were aware. Many adolescents gave more than one response to mandated parental involvement. Forty-six percent would use an over-the-counter method (for contraception, such as condoms), and 18 percent would go to a private physician. Seven percent said they would stop having sex as one response, but only 1 percent indicated this would be their only reaction. The researchers found that 18 percent of teenagers would engage in risky sexual behavior (e.g., no method of contraception) if parental involvement were mandated; 5 percent would forgo sexually transmitted disease (STD) services.

" this research confirms that parental involvement laws for minors seeking prescription contraception in family planning clinics would discourage few teenagers from having sex and would likely increase rates of adolescent pregnancy and STDs," the authors write.


Contact: Rebecca Wind
JAMA and Archives Journals

Page: 1

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