As the Trump regime continues to take aim at restricting access to critical health care, it is more important than ever that every New Yorker knows their rights – not least, young people navigating health care options for the first time.
To this end, the NYCLU just released our latest edition of Teenagers, Health Care, and the Law a guide to teenagers’ rights to medical consent and confidentiality under New York State and federal law. The guide is a resource for doctors, nurses, mental health professionals and social workers who work with young adults.
Research shows many teenagers do not get the care they need because they fear providers will disclose confidential information to parents or guardians. But the truth is, in many circumstances, New York law allows teens to give informed consent to their own medical treatment confidentially, including reproductive and mental health care.
With the clueless and callous Trump administration doing things like cutting $200 million in federal grants to organizations that work to reduce teen pregnancy, we have to work harder than ever to make sure young people get the health care they require.
Here are five things teenagers should know about their rights to access health care in New York:
Teens have a right to birth control
A minor’s right to confidential contraception without parental notification or informed consent is protected in New York. Informed consent means a person understands the risks, benefits and alternatives to care.
Teens can get tested
A minor who provides informed consent can be tested or treated for a sexually transmitted infection without a parent’s or guardian’s involvement.
Teens can get sexual assault care
A minor who is capable of giving informed consent can consent to many aspects of sexual assault care without involving parents.
Teens can access some mental health counseling and services independently
A minor can get outpatient mental health treatment without asking their parents as long as a physician agrees it’s necessary and that getting a parent involved could prevent the teen from getting the care they need.
Teens have a right to abortion care
A pregnant teen in New York may give informed consent to or refuse an abortion, as long as she understands the risks and benefits of the procedure.
For more details on all of these topics and many others, including access to health care for transgender teens and how minors can get public health insurance, read the guide here.
While Trump plays to his base by prioritizing things like abstinence-only education, we have to get the facts about health care to young New Yorkers. Their future could depend on it.