Would Mandatory Parental Notification Laws Regarding Contraceptive Prescriptions Negatively Affect Teenage Girls' Health?



PRO (yes)

The ACLU wrote in a July 18, 2003 press release "Preventing Teenagers from Getting Contraceptives Unless They Tell a Parent Puts Teens at Risk," published on its website www.aclu.org:

"Studies show that preventing teens from getting contraceptives unless they tell a parent won't stop teenagers from having sex. It will just drive them away from the services they need to protect themselves, leading to higher rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV...

Some people say that allowing teenagers to get contraceptives without first telling a parent encourages them to become sexually active... But research about how teenagers behave flatly contradicts this theory...

Cutting off teenagers' access to contraceptives... just drives them out of doctors' offices. When teenagers don't visit family planning providers, not only do they forego contraceptive services, they also miss or dangerously postpone screening and treatment for STDs, routine gynecological exams, and other vital health care services."

July 18, 2003 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 



Carol Ford, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, wrote in an Aug. 14, 2002 article "Limiting Confidentiality of Adolescent Health Services," published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

"There is no reason that efforts to strengthen communication between adolescents and their parents cannot take place even though confidential health care is available to adolescents who need or want it...

The greatest risk is that adolescents who need health care will not receive it and will experience preventable negative outcomes, endangering their own health and often the public health as well. This outcome is not in the best interest of adolescents, their parents, or professionals dedicated to preserving the health and well-being of this age group."

Aug. 14, 2002 - Carol A. Ford, MD 



Diane Reddy, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, et al., wrote in the Aug. 14, 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association article "Effect of Mandatory Parental Notification on Adolescent Girls' Use of Sexual Health Care Services":

"Girls younger than 18 years and seeking services at all 33 Planned Parenthood family planning clinics in Wisconsin... were surveyed during the spring of 1999. A response rate of 85% was achieved, yielding a sample of 950 girls.

[T]he evidence suggests that requiring parental notification would impede girls' use of prescribed contraceptive services, with the majority of girls continuing to have sexual intercourse despite restricted access to prescribed contraceptives. Given this information, requiring parental notification for obtaining prescribed contraceptives would likely increase unintended pregnancies, abortions, and out-of-wedlock births."

Aug. 14, 2002 - Diane M. Reddy, PhD 



CON (no)

Joseph Wheeler, President of the Pro-Life Victory Committee, wrote in his article "Parent-Free Teen Contraception Pushed," published Jan. 21, 2005 on the World Net Daily website:

"Since the policy of parental consent was instituted in our county there are no indications and no valid scientific claims that teen pregnancy and STDs have increased. Actually, our pregnancy rates have gone down consistent with national averages, which I would consider a success. So have the county's abortion rates. McHenry County [Illinois] citizens successfully prove the positive effect that parents are fully capable and are worthy of their authority to be parents and the societal harms proposed by contrary prognostications are erroneous in light of our evidence."

Jan. 21, 2005 - Joseph Wheeler 



The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an association of Catholic leaders, released the following position in its "Parental Notification Needed in Title X Program," published on its website (accessed June 15, 2010):

"Most forms of contraceptives have potentially dangerous side effects for young women, which parents - not clinic workers - are left to deal with. None of these drugs and devices shields against sexually transmitted diseases...

Recent national statistics show that teen sexual activity, pregnancy rates, and abortion rates are declining for a variety of reasons. The messages we send to our teens should encourage this trend by stressing the dangers of premature sexual activity. Parents are the most appropriate and reliable people to send such a message...

Government agencies or counselors cannot replace and should not interfere with the rights and responsibilities of loving parents, particularly in sensitive matters dealing with human sexuality and the transmission of human life. Government should protect the role of loving and supportive parents, and make it possible to terminate the parental rights of those who abuse their trust. Current policy does just the opposite: Pushing parents out of the situation, and protecting abusers."

June 15, 2010 - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) 



Leslee J. Unruh, President of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, was quoted in an article written by Sam Kastensmidt titled "AMA Calls for Parent-Free Teen Contraception," published Jan. 29, 2005 by The Center for Reclaiming America for Christians:

"[T]he AMA's suggestion [that lawmakers should lift all parental notification laws governing contraception for teens] would set a very dangerous precedent. From birth, parents are responsible for helping their children to grow, to learn, and to succeed. Why is it that as soon as children become teenagers, the ability of parents to help their children is suddenly not good enough... The dangerous road contraception education groups would have us travel is one we cannot afford to take... Our children deserve better. They deserve the help and direction parents can provide in making life-altering decisions as adolescents."

Jan. 29, 2005 - Leslee J. Unruh