Making Your Own Health Care Decisions

Pregnant and Parenting Teens
2. Your right to sexual health care

Making Your Own Health Care Decisions

If you are 18 or over, you can make all of your own health care decisions.

In New York, young people 17 and under (including young people in foster care) have the right to make certain medical decisions, like those relating to sexual health care, on their own and the right to keep that care confidential and private. In addition, if you are 17 or younger you can access the following sexual health services confidentially, without the permission or involvement of a parent, agency or other guardian:

  • Birth control (including condoms and "the pill");
  • Emergency contraception (sometimes called "the morning-after pill" or "Plan B")—if you are 16 or younger, you will need a prescription, which you can get from your health care provider, but if you are 17 or older you can get emergency contraception over the counter at drugstores;
  • Pregnancy-related care;
  • STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) tests and treatment;
  • H I V t e st s;
  • Abortion services; and
  • Sexual assault care.

If you are younger than 17 and want confidential care, your health provider must first determine that you understand three things before he or she can treat you and keep that care private:

  • The condition for which you seek treatment,
  • The nature and purpose of the different available treatments, and
  • The risks and benefits of the different available treatments (including the option of not getting treatment at all).