We strongly favor North Carolina’s minor’s consent law.
North Carolina, like every other state in the US, protects a minor’s ability to consent to certain medical services. In North Carolina, a minor can see a medical professional for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of:
- mental health, or
- substance abuse.
The law explicitly excludes abortion and admission to a 24-hour facility, which both require parental permission.
All evidence shows it encourages healthy behaviors and personal responsibility, stems the spread of disease, reduces teen pregnancy rates, and encourages the involvement of adults. Furthermore, 83% of North Carolina parents favor the state’s minor’s consent law.
Research findings over several decades have indicated that concerns about privacy and parental consent requirements dissuade youth from seeking critical health care services. After reviewing the full body of available research, the Journal of Adolescent Health issued an opinion on parental consent laws, stating, “Mandatory parental notification policies seem to have adverse consequences on adolescent health. Such policies do not change adolescent health risk behaviors; rather they drive them under the radar of clinical detection, prevention, and treatment, placing adolescents at greater risk for negative health outcomes.”
Focus groups conducted with North Carolina youth echo the same sentiment: If required to get permission, youth would simply forgo preventative care, STD treatment, or timely prenatal care, but would not forgo sex.
Beyond encouraging access to care, North Carolina’s minor’s consent law provides a lifeline to our most vulnerable youth: those with uninvolved parents and those who are victims of abuse at the hand of a parent or guardian. For younger adolescents who have had sex – and who bear some of the greatest risk factors for teen pregnancy – 60% report that their first sexual experience was not consensual. Coupled with evidence on child sexual abuse, there is a high likelihood those youth are abused by the very family member whose permission would be required under parental consent laws.