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New laws and policies at the state and federal levels began to allow teenagers to consent to reproductive health services and to ensure that services would be delivered confidentially when requested.And in the late 1970s, the Supreme Court in successive decisions extended the constitutional right to privacy to a minors decision to both obtain contraceptives and choose an abortion.For example, federal courts struck down the Title X "squeal rule"—a 1982 regulation issued by the Reagan administration requiring that Title X–supported clinics notify parents before dispensing contraception to minors—on the grounds that it undermined one of the major purposes of Title X (preventing teenage pregnancies) and therefore subverted the intent of Congress.Similarly, Congress rejected a series of amendments in the late 1990s that would have attached a parental consent requirement to the annual legislation funding the program.Currently, all states allow minors to consent to testing and treatment services for STDs.Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia explicitly allow all minors to consent to contraceptive services, and another 25 affirm the right for certain categories of minors, such as those who are married or who have had a previous pregnancy.
Efforts by conservative lawmakers at both the federal and state levels to prevent teenagers from obtaining contraceptive care without a parent's knowledge have been largely unsuccessful.
Public policy has long protected the right of minors to receive contraceptive services confidentially.
The same is not true for abortion, notwithstanding research suggesting that policies mandating parental involvement in either case present asignificant threat to teenagers' health andwell-being.
Furthermore, some state courts have adopted the so-called mature minor rule, under which a minor who is deemed sufficiently intelligent and mature to understand the nature and consequences of a proposed treatment may consent to medical treatment without consulting his or her parents or obtaining their permission.
On the basis of scientific findings dating back to the late 1970s that identified the premium that young people place on confidentiality, public policy has long reflected the reality that many minors will not seek important, sensitive health services if required to inform their parents.