Parental consent: an unnecessary barrier to adolescent obstetrical care

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Abstract

When adolescents in the United States become pregnant, these young mothers experience differential access to obstetrical services, including prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care. As of 2018, 13 states in the United States do not afford a pregnant minor rights to prenatal care without parental consent, and 13 states do not ensure confidentiality from parental disclosure. Because of this, young mothers may avoid seeking timely and medically necessary care, not to mention counseling regarding preventive health services and monitoring of underlying chronic conditions. Lack of access during these critical months leads to missed essential opportunities for intervention and increased pregnancy-related risks to the mother and infant. It is imperative for obstetricians and gynecologists to value, support, and advocate for adolescents' emerging autonomy and personal agency to make informed decisions about their own bodies during their pregnancies, but also in making the choice to prevent future pregnancies through contraception.

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