Minors' Access to Confidential Health Care

Each day, adolescents make important choices related to sex, alcohol and drugs, and other issues that may affect their mental health and well-being. Yet, most minors are not aware of their rights to consult with or seek treatment from medical professionals on a confidential basis. Worse, the majority of physicians, health and even legal professionals do not understand when they may provide services to teens absent parental knowledge and/or consent. Increasing understanding among minors, parents and those who interact with them is critical to ensuring that minors have the fullest possible access to medical assistance when it is needed.

  • Take a look at our reference card for physicians. This valuable resource explains the rights of minors to access sensitive health services including family planning, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse treatment, psychological counseling, and services following sexual assault.  Reference Card: Minors' Access to Confidential Health Care in Pennsylvania
  • The Duvall Project has also developed a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary course that explains minors’ ability to consent to various health care services, addresses the practical concerns that arise when discussing these issues with minors, and opens a dialogue between teens, parents and professionals about the difficult choices facing minors and their health consequences. To support the course, the Duvall Project has created a teaching manual centered on 14 case histories: Do you have to tell my mom? Minors, Health Care and the Law. For more information about the course, contact us at duvall@aclupa.org.
  • In Southeastern PA, the Duvall Project creates connections with health care and other professionals to help achieve our goals, including medical students, sexual assault advocates, ER nurses, residency programs and attorneys. We’ve even developed informational pamphlets for continuing medical education and sexual assault advocacy relating to our Minor’s Rights project.