Did you know that teenagers under the age of 18 can see a doctor for some health issues without requiring the consent of their parent or guardian?  Yes, you read that right.  Teens can see doctors on their own to address some sensitive issues that they may not feel comfortable involving their parents.  And doctors are required to keep this information confidential, that means that providers CAN’T share this information with parents without the teen’s consent.  Many teens do not get the health care they need because they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents or worry that their doctor may tell their parents about sensitive issues.  We always recommend trying to involve parents or guardians in health care decisions, even about sensitive issues like reproductive health or mental health and your doctor may be able to help start these conversations with parents.  But if teens don’t feel comfortable talking to their parent or guardian, they can still see a doctor to get the care they need.
Here in New York State, teenagers can access the following services on their own without requiring parental consent:

  • Birth control (including birth control pills, the shot, IUDs and the birth control implant)
  • Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (including HIV tests and treatment)
  • Getting HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to help prevent contracting HIV – See SB HIV PrEP page for more info
  • Prenatal care
  • Abortion services
  • Evaluation and treatment following a sexual assault
  • Mental health counseling
  • Substance abuse treatment

It is important to have the conversation about your healthcare and confidentiality with your provider.  They can help address any concerns or questions.

Keep in mind that healthcare rights for teens vary by state.  You can check here for more information about health services for young people in different states

You can get more detailed information about a minor’s rights in New York State by clicking here.

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