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.