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Health & Parenting

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Consent Laws May Promote Risky Teen Sex

Laws Mandating Parental Consent for Contraception Affect Teen Sex Habits

Why Teens Don't Tell Their Parents continued...

  • Not wanting their parents to know they were sexually active
  • Taking responsibility for their own health
  • Concern that their parent would be disappointed if they were having sex
  • Feeling uncomfortable talking about sex with their parents

Most of the girls (59%) said they would continue to use the clinic for prescription birth control if parental consent was required, but those responses varied greatly.

Only about 30% of the girls who said their parents were unaware of their clinic visits said they would continue to use the clinic for birth control services if parental consent was required. But nearly 80% of those girls who parents were aware of their clinic use said they continue to use the clinic under those circumstances.

The second most common response to mandated parental notification was to use an over-the-counter method of birth control, such as condoms, if consent was required. Teens whose parents knew they were visiting the clinic were more likely to indicate that they would use an over-the-counter method.

But the study also showed that 18% of teenagers said they would engage in risky sex by not using any birth control if parental notification was mandated. The likelihood of engaging in risky sex was much lower among teens who had informed their parents of clinic use and those whose parents had suggested the clinic.

When asked if a law mandating parental consent for obtaining prescription birth control would prevent them from seeking sexually transmitted disease testing or other STD services, 95% of teens said they would use the clinic or a private physician, but only a few (5%) said such a law would cause them to forgo these services.

Researchers say the results show that mandated parental notifications laws would likely increase risky or unsafe sexual behavior among teens and may, in turn, increase rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

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