Over the past 30 years, states have expanded minors’ authority to consent to health care, including care related to sexual activity. This trend reflects the 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Carey v. Population Services International that affirmed the constitutional right to privacy for a minor to obtain contraceptives in all states. It also reflects the recognition that while parental involvement is desirable, many minors will remain sexually active but not seek services if they have to tell their parents. As a result, confidentiality is vital to ensuring minors’ access to contraceptive services. Even when a state has no relevant policy or case law or an explicit limitation, physicians may commonly provide medical care to a mature minor without parental consent, particularly if the state allows a minor to consent to related health services.
Visit our state legislation tracker for policy activity on all sexual and reproductive health topics.
- 23 states and the District of Columbia explicitly allow all minors to consent to contraceptive services.
- 24 states explicitly permit minors to consent to contraceptive services in one or more circumstances.
- 2 states allow minors to consent to contraceptive services if a physician determines that the minor would face a health hazard if she is not provided with contraceptive services.
- 19 states allow a married minor to consent to contraceptive services.
- 5 states allow a minor who is a parent to consent.
- 5 states allow a minor who is or has ever been pregnant to consent to services.
- 10 states allow a minor to consent if the minor meets other requirements, including being a high school graduate, reaching a minimum age, demonstrating maturity or receiving a referral from a specified professional, such as a physician or member of the clergy.
- 4 states have no explicit policy on minors’ authority to consent to contraceptive services.
- Northern America: United States
- Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming