THE POLICY

Last year, state legislation in Texas made it illegal for youth under the age of 18 to access birth control from state funded clinics without explicit parental permission. This law is contrary to the Supreme Court ruling which mandates that citizens (including those under the age of 18) retain the ability to protect their right of privacy in the case of their health and contraception choices. What this translates to on a federal scale, is that adult providers and parents are only allowed to have visibility into a youth's health and contraceptive choices if the youth themselves chooses to disclose that information. Technically this is still the case in Texas, unless the means used to purchase or dispense such contraception are state funded. As a youth, you still have every legal right to discretely receive education and purchase over the counter, non-prescription contraception such as condoms.Texas law only restricts youth's access to contraceptive services if the clinic is state funded, in which case the youth would need to acquire on-site parental consent.

HOW THIS LOOKS FOR FOSTER YOUTH

This policy has the possibility of posing several issues for foster youth. The most obvious one being that as a foster youth, the legal responsibility of "parent" may fall on someone different than who raised you. While most kids have a hard enough time bringing up the issue of sex with their parents, youth in foster care don't always have the luxury of trust and mutual values that naturally extends from a long loving relationship with a parental figure. Instead a youth may find that the foster home or facility that they have been placed in has drastically different views and standards around sexual activity and reproductive health than their previous placements or birth family. This may cause them to feel even less secure in discussing their sexual activity or reproductive health concerns. This does not mean however, that this policy has produced a reduction in state wide sexual activity by minors. Texas boasts one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation and many speculate that this is a combined result of policies and attitudes that restrict education and contraception availability.

GETTING YOUR NEEDS MET

Fortunately if you're a young person in foster care that doesn't mean that you're out of options. In fact, there are many people involved with your case that can function as an advocate for you to assert your reproductive health needs. Examples may include your:

Casa worker or GAL (guardian at litem )

Case worker

ILP provider

Court appointed lawyer

Foster parent

It's also important to remember that clinics and health centers that receive title X funding are still allowed to dispense contraceptives without signed parental consent. For a list of title X funded clinics and resources that you can be provided discretely or by any local clinic regardless of funding, click the planned parenthood link below

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-greater-texas/patien...

For more detailed information on contraceptive restrictions in Texas you can also explore the following links. http://www.contracept.org/articles/contraception/texas-birth-control-law...

http://www.texasobserver.org/getting-moms-permission/

#it'scomplicated

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