Your Right to Consent to Health Care

Under New York law, if you are in one of the following groups you can legally consent to all, or much, of your own health care:
  • Pregnant minors,
  • Minors who are parents,
  • Minors who are married,
  • Minors serving in the armed forces,
  • Emancipated minors,
  • Incarcerated minors.

In addition, any young person can consent to the following types of care if they can provide informed consent. Informed consent means that you are able to understand your health information as explained by your medical provider, as well as the risks and benefits of treatment, and can make a decision for yourself (see key terms):

  • Reproductive health care, including family planning (i.e., birth control, including emergency contraception), abortion, pregnancy/prenatal care, care during labor and delivery, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;
  • Certain mental health services;
  • Certain alcohol and drug abuse services;
  • Sexual assault treatment.

If you do not fit into one of the categories listed above or if you need other types of care that is not listed above, you must get your parent or guardian’s consent.



QUESTION ...... Dana is 17. She goes to her doctor to be treated for genital herpes. Does the doctor need to get Dana’s parents’ permission before treating her? .................. ANSWER ...... NO! A minor has the legal right to consent to health care for sexually transmitted infections. So long as Dana has the capacity for informed consent, meaning that she understands her condition and the risks and benefits of the proposed and alternative treatments, parental consent is not required. Dana’s doctor must also keep the information from this visit confidential from her parents unless Dana gives permission to share.

Who Can Consent to Healthcare On Your Behalf?

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Civil Liberties Union