More and more, doctors are asking parents of children or teens to leave the room so the doctor can speak privately with the child. While the parent or the child can insist that the parent stays, being asked to step out raises a question in the mind of most parents:
“Can my child even legally make healthcare decisions without me knowing about it or without my consent as their parent?”
The answer to that question depends on what state you live in and what medical treatment or service is being sought. Of course, doctors generally do not need to wait for parental consent to treat medical needs in an emergency. Yet even regarding certain non-emergency healthcare issues, many states legally allow doctors to meet with minors without their parents and for those minors to consent to certain treatments without notice to or consent from their parents.
These laws are called minor medical consent laws, and this concept is called “Minor Consent.” However, to be clear, Minor Consent does not just mean that the treatment a parent wants for their child of a certain age has to also be agreed to by that child (i.e. consent by both the child and the parent). Minor Consent means that minors of a certain age can seek and obtain certain medical treatment even if the parents do not know about it or are opposed to it (i.e. consent by just the child).
While most states do require parental consent for most medical procedures, there are numerous exceptions allowing for Minor Consent. Here are the typical treatment areas where many states allow Minor Consent to suffice:
- Venereal disease
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Mental health care
- Blood donation
- Pregnancy-related care
The age when a minor can obtain these and other services or treatments without parental consent varies by state.
In addition to the areas outlined in our state guide, states almost always legally consider a minor to be an adult when it comes to obtaining medical, dental, or other health-related services when the minor:
- Is married, divorced, or widowed
- Is serving in the U.S. military
- Is in prison
- Is granted emancipation by a court
To gain a better understanding about the minor medical consent laws in your state, we encourage members to review our Law & Policy page on this issue.
If you are a member of Heritage Defense and still have questions after reviewing our Law & Policy page about Minor Consent, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.
If you are a Christian homeschooling family but are not yet a member of Heritage Defense, learn more about joining today!