Background

The legal ability of minors to consent to a range of sensitive health care services—including sexual and reproductive health care, mental health services and alcohol and drug abuse treatment—has expanded dramatically over the past 30 years. This trend reflects the recognition that, while parental involvement in minors’ health care decisions is desirable, many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents. With regard to sexual and reproductive health care, many states explicitly permit all or some minors to obtain contraceptive, prenatal and STI services without parental involvement. Moreover, nearly every state permits minor parents to make important decisions on their own regarding their children. In sharp contrast, the majority of states require parental involvement in a minor’s abortion.

In most cases, state consent laws apply to all minors age 12 and older. In some cases, however, states allow only certain groups of minors—such as those who are married, pregnant or already parents—to consent. Several states have no relevant policy or case law; in these states, physicians commonly provide medical care without parental consent to minors they deem mature, particularly if the state allows minors to consent to related services. The following chart contains seven categories of state law that affect a minor’s right to consent. Further information on these issues can be obtained by clicking on the column headings.

Highlights

 

 

Minors May Consent TO:

STATE

CONTRACEPTIVE SERVICES

STI SERVICES

PRENATAL CARE

ADOPTION

MEDICAL CARE FOR MINOR'S CHILD

ABORTION SERVICES

Alabama

All†​

All*

All

All

All

Parental Consent

Alaska

All

All

All

 

All

(Parental Notice)

Arizona

All

All

 

All

 

Parental Consent

Arkansas

All

All*

All

 

All

Parental Consent

California

All

All

All

All

 

(Parental Consent)

Colorado

All

All

All

All

All

Parental Notice

Connecticut

Some

All

 

Legal counsel

All

All

Delaware

All*

All*

All*

All

All

Parental Notice‡​

Dist. of Columbia

All

All

All

All

All

All

Florida

Some

All

All

 

All

Parental Notice

Georgia

All

All*

All

All

All

Parental Notice

Hawaii

All*,†​

All*,

All*,

All

 

 

Idaho

All

All

All

All

All

Parental Consent

Illinois

Some

All*

All

All

All

Parental Notice

Indiana

Some

All

 

All

 

Parental Consent

Iowa

All

All

 

 

 

Parental Notice

Kansas

Some

All*

Some

All

All

Parental Consent

Kentucky

All*

All*

All*

Legal counsel

All

Parental Consent

Louisiana

Some

All*

 

Parental consent

All

Parental Consent

Maine

Some

All*

 

 

 

All

Maryland

All*

All*

All*

All

All

Parental Notice

Massachusetts

All

All

All

 

All

Parental Consent

Michigan

Some

All*

All*

Parental consent

All

Parental Consent

Minnesota

All*

All*

All*

Parental consent

All

Parental Notice

Mississippi

Some

All

All

All

All

Parental Consent

Missouri

Some

All*

All*

Legal counsel

All

Parental Consent

Montana

All*

All*

All*

Legal counsel

All

(Parental Consent)

Nebraska

Some

All

 

 

 

Parental Consent

Nevada

Some

All

Some

All

All

(Parental Notice)

New Hampshire

Some

All

Some

AllΩ​

 

Parental Notice

New Jersey

Some

All*

All*

All

All

(Parental Notice)

New Mexico

All

All

All

All

 

(Parental Consent)

New York

All

All

All

All

All

 

North Carolina

All

All

All

 

 

Parental Consent

North Dakota

 

All

ξ*

All

 

Parental Consent

Ohio

 

All

 

All

 

Parental Consent

Oklahoma

Some

All*

All*

All†​

All

Parental Consent and Notice

Oregon

All*

All

All*,

 

 

 

Pennsylvania

All†​

All

All

Parental notice

All

Parental Consent

Rhode Island

 

All

 

Parental consent

All

Parental Consent

South Carolina

All

All◊​

All◊​

All

All

Parental Consent‡​

South Dakota

Some

All

 

 

 

Parental Notice

Tennessee

All

All

All

All

All

Parental Consent

Texas

Some

All*

All*

 

 

Parental Consent and Notice

Utah

Some

All

All

All

All

Parental Consent and Notice

Vermont

Some

All

 

All

 

 

Virginia

All

All

All

All

All

Parental Consent and Notice

Washington

All

All†​

All

Legal counsel

 

 

West Virginia

Some

All

Some

All

 

Parental Notice

Wisconsin

 

All

 

 

 

Parental Consent

Wyoming

All

All

 

All

 

Parental Consent and Notice

TOTAL

26+DC

50+DC

32+DC

28+DC

30+DC

2+DC

Notes: "All" applies to those 17 and younger or to minors of at least a specified age such as 12 or 14. "Some" applies to specified categories of minors (those who have a health issue, or are married, pregnant, mature, etc.) The totals include only those states that allow all minors to consent.

Enforcement permanently or temporarily enjoined by a court order; policy not in effect.

*   Physicians may, but are not required to, inform the minor's parents.

   Applies to minors 14 and older.

   Delaware's abortion law applies to women younger than 16. Oregon's prenatal care law applies to women at least 15 years old. South Carolina's abortion law applies to those younger than 17.

Ω  A court may require parental consent.

ξ   Minor may consent to prenatal care in the 1st trimester and the first visit after the 1st trimester. Parental consent required for all other visits.

   Applies to mature minors 15 and younger and to all minors 16 and older.