Youth Who Can Consent to Their Own Health Care
Under New York law, if you are in one of the following groups, you are able to legally consent to all, or much, of your own health care:
If you are pregnant, you can consent to any medical, dental, health, and hospital services you get during pregnancy.
If you are or have been married, you may consent to your own medical, dental, health, and hospital care without the consent of any other person.
Minors Who Are Parents
If you are a parent, you may make all decisions relating to all health care services for yourself and for your children.
Rosa, who is 16, and her two-year-old son, Manuel, both catch the flu. Must Rosa involve her parents in order to get treatment at the doctor’s office?
No. As a parent, Rosa can consent to medical services for herself and her child.
Emancipation occurs when you are under the age of 21 and:
- Living apart from your parents or guardians and are managing your own money (economic independence); or
- Entering into military service; or
- Are married (or were married); or
- Withdrawing, without cause, from parental supervision and control.
When you are married or serving in the military, New York State law makes clear that you are emancipated and may consent to health services on your own.
If you have attained economic independence or emancipation in some other form, however, a health care provider may require proof of emancipation.
In these circumstances, youth legal services organizations, such as The Door (https://www.door.org), can assist you in preparing letters of emancipation that state that you are living apart from your parents and are supporting yourself. It is still up to the health care provider to decide whether or not to treat you based on that letter.
If you are incarcerated (in jail or juvenile detention) in facilities under the control of the Department of Corrections, you may generally consent to your own routine medical, dental, and mental health services.
These same rules apply to minors who have been found delinquent and placed with the Office of Children and Family Services, a social services district, or the division for youth.
Being found delinquent means that a young person has been found responsible for having committed a delinquent act – the equivalent of being found guilty of a criminal offense.