What’s the most important law for preventing teen pregnancy? You might think it’s our (important) sex education law. Or maybe our (also important) budget that allocates funding for prevention programs.
In reality, the most important law is a quiet little 1971 law called Minor's Consent for Health Services. Unfortunately, a bill introduced in the NC Senate would undo the law.
According to the current law, anyone – regardless of age – can seek medical care for the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of pregnancy, STIs/HIV, mental health, or substance abuse. The law excludes abortion or admission to an overnight facility, which still require a parent’s permission.
North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate has fallen 58% since 1990, and studies show almost all of that was because of increased contraceptive use. In focus groups and national surveys, teens tell us that they would not seek pregnancy prevention services or STI testing/treatment if it meant getting parent permission.
It’s not just teens who like Minor’s Consent. 83% of North Carolina parents think the state’s current Minor’s Consent law is important.
(That includes 50% of Republican parents who say it’s “very important”.)
North Carolina has made remarkable progress in teen pregnancy prevention. What will happen when we take away the law that made the biggest impact?