Context Mandatory parental notification for adolescents to obtain prescribed
contraceptives is a controversial issue. Recently, legislation that would
prohibit prescribed contraceptives for adolescents without parental involvement
was introduced in 10 states and the US Congress.
Objective To determine the effect of mandatory parental notification for prescribed
contraceptives on use of sexual health care services by adolescent girls.
Design, Setting, and Participants Girls younger than 18 years and seeking services at all 33 Planned Parenthood
family planning clinics in Wisconsin (n = 1118) were surveyed during the spring
of 1999. A response rate of 85% was achieved, yielding a sample of 950 girls.
Main Outcome Measures Percentages of girls who reported that they would stop using all sexual
health care services, delay testing or treatment for human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or discontinue
using specific (but not all) services because of parental notification.
Results Fifty-nine percent (n = 556) indicated they would stop using all sexual
health care services, delay testing or treatment for HIV or other STDs, or
discontinue use of specific (but not all) sexual health care services if their
parents were informed that they were seeking prescribed contraceptives. Eleven
percent indicated they would discontinue or delay STD tests or treatment,
even though the survey made it clear that mandatory parental notification
would occur only for prescribed contraceptives. Analyses comparing girls of
different ages and races and from urban vs rural clinics showed that, although
the 17-year-olds and African American girls were significantly less likely
to stop using sexual health care services with mandatory parental notification,
roughly half of the 17-year-olds (56%) and African American girls (49%) indicated
that they would stop using all sexual health care services, delay testing
or treatment for HIV or other STDs, or discontinue use of specific (but not
all) services with mandatory parental notification.
Conclusion Mandatory parental notification for prescribed contraceptives would
impede girls' use of sexual health care services, potentially increasing teen
pregnancies and the spread of STDs.