Birth Control for Minors
According to the CDC, even though United States is one of the top industrial nations in the world, our nation has the most teenage pregnancies, in the latest statistics “”in 2017 a total of 194,377 babies were born to teenage mothers age 15 to 19 years old. (CDC, 2019). Unfortunately, about 50% of these teen Moms will drop out of high school and many will live in poverty. Despite these high rates of births, the question and dilemma is should the laws uphold parental authority or should minors be given autonomy when it comes to getting and receiving prescribed contraceptives aids? This paper will discuss both the pros and the cons of minors receiving parental consent to nonparental consent for contraceptives.
History and State Facts
Even though the U.S. Supreme court in 1977 enacted laws that allow teens to receive contraceptives without parental consent, for the prevention of high teen birth rates, some states hold stipulations on allowing non consent (Guttermacher, 2019). In an article titled “”Minors’ Access to Contraceptive Services”” as of March 2019, 21 states and the District of Columbia freely allow access to birth control without parental consent (Guttermacher, 2019). For the rest of the states there has to be a specific reason for nonparental consent, this includes minors “”who are married, have already been pregnant or have children”” (Guttermacher, 2019). There however are loopholes around this called Title X birth control clinics who are in many cities and they provide birth control without the requirement of parental consent.
The National Vital Statistics reveals the costs of “”adolescents giving birth before the age of 18 costs the United States at least $9.1 billion dollars annually”” (2019). However, birth control is much cheaper. According to the Planned Parenthood the “costs of contraceptives including birth control pill, patch, and ring ranges from $20–$50 per month and the birth control shot, that is given every 3 months is around $75 per shot” (Planned Parenthood, 2010).
Controversy and Ethical Issues
The debate for the right of parental consent for contraceptives for minors makes sense when looking at it from both the prospective of the parent and the parental medical laws that are in-place. It is a well acknowledged and documented law in the United States that all medical procedures, treatments and prescribed medicines involving minors: consent must first be obtained by the parents. However, on the other hand a lot of parents feel giving their teen permission to take birth control is like giving them permission to be sexually active. However according to the article titled “”Legal and Ethical Issues on Consent for Minors, written by Christy Fogleman, Fogleman states the defining lines of consent “”begin to gray when a child shows competency and understanding of a treatment or procedure and has different opinions”” of the procedure outcome than their guardians (2016). The medical ethical dilemma is when should healthcare providers decide on who makes the decisions about healthcare: the mature minor or the parent, especially when it comes to contraceptives?
The Pros for Parental Consent
To put it simply many parents and healthcare opponents need to be aware if their minor is on contraceptives because of the health factors associated with them for instance, a minor’s health care provider and parents need to be informed on what medications their patient/child is taking because of possible side effects of medications and the fact that some antibiotics (and other medications) can interfere with the effectiveness of some birth control medicines. There are also serious complications associated with hormonal contraceptives that include “”cardiovascular problems, such as blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, a stroke or even a heart attack (Medical News, 2018).
Another emotionally charged issue that many parents feel and as one parent described in the article titled ,””Parental Consent: Required for Minors’ use of Birth Control?”” the parent states that their teenagers are “”not allowed to vote”” drink alcohol and they even need parental consent to drive yet “”they are acting in a way that could bring a whole new person into being”” and parents may not even have a say in this (about obtaining contraceptives) ( El-Rahi, 2013). Additional support on the side of minors requiring parental consent for contraceptives, includes a variety of reasons. For example, the belief that is upheld by American Academia of Pediatricians is that teenagers need to “”postpone consensual sexual activity until they are fully ready for the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of sex”” (Blythe & Diaz, 2007). A lot of parents too are advocates of these beliefs of maturity and responsibility. Additionally, a lot of religions doctrines and parents affiliated with them, teach minors absolute abstinence from sex and sex is only permissible for marriage.
The Cons for Nonparental Consent
The deliberation to discreetly allow minors access to contraceptives without parent consent also brings up many relevant issues on why this should be allowed. The first and foremost is the high rate of teenage birth. And whether parents are willing to accept it or not according to a number of psychologists the belief is “”sexual intercourse during high school is now a part of the normative experience”” (Villanueva, 2016). It doesn’t help that the content on social media, movies and TV shows and even music exposes teenagers to “”a great deal of sexual content, creating the strong potential for observing such effects”” and the high possibility for imitating this behavior and engaging in sex. Peer pressure is also a factor in influencing teenagers to have sex. (ASPE, 2011).
The next issue many studies have found that preventing teens from contraceptives without parent permission won’t stop teenagers from having sex. In fact, it will only prevent them from receiving vital “”services they need to protect themselves, leading to higher rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases”” and even AIDs (ACLU, 2019). The attitude that many teenagers have is they do not want to inform their pare uncomfortable and sensitive of a subject, seemly for both sides’ parents included.
In my opinion I would be for birth control for minors without obtaining a parent consent, to my knowledge taking away birth control availability without a parental consent puts young teens at risk. I believe taking away contraception would sky rocket teens pregnancies across the nation as well as abortions. Teens might want to get on birth control without their parents because they’re embarrassed and just want to be safe or their parents wouldn’t let them but they still choose to be sexually active, even at a young age they are in control of their bodies. I know that no teenager is old enough to bare the decision of being a parent, therefore they should have the opportunity to take precaution. Birth control is beneficial for more than just preventing pregnancy, it can help regulate menstrual cycles, and help with mood swings. In my eyes birth control has an amazing purpose and should be easy to obtain for any teen that chooses to engage is sexual activity.
The best teachers and educators about sex are the minor’s parents and their primary doctor as well as nurses. Without the proper understanding, minors may receive misinformation from their friends or siblings. For instance, a lot of minors think the pull-out method is an effective way of not becoming pregnant however this is a misconception. And according to Planned Parenthood this “”22 out of 100 people who use withdrawal get pregnant every year — that’s about 1 in 5″” (2019).
To sum it up the overall best policy is for parents to have an open communication with children about sex and to start early even though parents feel talking to their child about sex will create curiosity and result in their child seeking out sex, however the opposite is true. Parental discussions with their teens actually delay them in engaging in sex.
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