Hormonal Contraceptive Consent by Minors

Implications for Pharmacists

Geoffrey Mospan, PharmD, BCPS

Disclosures

US Pharmacist. 2018;43(5):22-25. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Minors are regarded as being under their parents' or legal guardians' care until they reach the age of legal adulthood. As a result, parental consent is generally needed for medical care. Many states have conferred on minors the right to consent to their own treatment for certain conditions, including obtaining hormonal contraceptives. Along with the legal right to consent to contraceptives, the confidentiality and privacy of the minor must be considered. Pharmacists may find themselves in the situation of dispensing or prescribing prescriptions for minors who consent to hormonal contraceptives. Compliance with consent laws for minors requesting hormonal contraceptives should be incorporated into practice by pharmacists.

Introduction

Society has long determined the age at which a person has matured sufficiently to leave the supervision of his or her parents. In the United States, individual states define when minors attain adulthood (known legally as the age of majority), usually at age 18 years. Until that point, unless a minor is emancipated or has other unique circumstances, he or she is under the control of a parent. Once a person reaches the specified age, he or she is granted the privilege of decision making, which often includes his or her personal healthcare. Parental consent for healthcare issues is generally desirable when a minor is too young or is not capable of making an appropriate decision given the complexity of the disease state and adherence to treatment. However, through legislation, many states have determined that certain aspects of healthcare do not require parental consent and minors are granted the freedom of seeking such care on their own. Examples of such healthcare services include prenatal care, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, drug or alcohol abuse treatment, and contraceptive services.[1] Because pharmacists commonly dispense contraceptives or may provide contraceptive services, it is important to understand how current laws grant minors the ability to give consent for these products.

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