LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Medical Treatment of Pregnant Minor

Inquiry:

Hello, I have a very urgent question regarding medical treatment of pregnant minor that I need answered as soon as possible.

If a 17-year-old is pregnant, and decides to move away from her parents, what can she do about doctor appointments?

My sister is pregnant and 17, and moved away from our parents. I am 19 and unfamiliar with this. She needs to know whether a parent must be with her at the hospital to sign releases and what not. She is so confused. She needs to have regular check-ups just in case something goes wrong. She is on Medicaid. Does a hospital consider her a minor that needs a parent signature? Do you know if they can refuse her because she is only 17?

Response:

Minor may consent.  MCL 333.9132 is the law applicable to medical treatment of pregnant minor.  This law provides that a minor may consent to the provision of health care, but the health care provider may, for medical reasons, notify the minor’s parent/guardian, spouse or the putative father. “Health care” means treatment or services intended to maintain the life and improve the health of both the minor and the minor’s child or fetus.

According to MCL 333.9132, if a minor consents to the provision of prenatal and pregnancy related health care or to the provision of health care for a child of the minor by a health facility or a health professional, the consent shall be valid and binding.  Neither the minor consenting nor the professional or facility providing the health care need the consent of any other person, including the putative father of the child or a spouse, parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis (acting as parent) to authorize the provision of health care to a minor or to a child of a minor.

Important!  Note well however, that for medical reasons, the health provider may, even despite the minor’s objection or refusal, inform the putative father of the child or the spouse, parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis (acting as parent) as to the health care given or needed. The procedure for this requires that before providing health care to a minor, the health facility/professional has to inform the minor that the putative father of the child or the minor’s spouse, parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis (acting as parent) may be notified for medical reasons. At the initial visit, the health care provider must request of the minor to make such contact for additional medical information which may be necessary or helpful to the provision of proper health care.

Therefore, in direct response to your question, the hospital does not consider her a minor that needs a parent signature and they should not refuse her because she is only 17. If you are there with her to establish a rapport with the physician and to register her in advance at the hospital at which she will deliver the baby, then you should avoid any issues as the physician and hospital will see that an adult family member is involved and that she has a support system in place.

Baby

For a summary document of Michigan laws related to the medical treatment of pregnant minor, or the right of a minor to obtain health care without consent or knowledge of parent, entitled Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative and prepared by the State of Michigan, Michigan Department of Community Health, visit: Michigan Minor Consent Laws. This can be printed out along with the LawRefs article to use for support.

Related material:
Medical Treatment of Minors, Including Pregnancy – Mississippi
Texas Minor Medical Consent Guide

Discussion:

  1. I am 14 and just found out I was pregnant a week ago. My baby’s father is 18. I do not blame him. My mom is supportive and wants me to live with her. His mom also wants me to live with her. I think my dad will try to put him in jail. If he didn’t force me, can I say he didn’t? Would he still get into trouble? I live in Texas. Can I move out without my mom saying I ran away or his mom is kidnapping me?

    • Dear Tristen:

      Please take a look at the Texas Minor Medical Consent Guide, linked, at the bottom of the article above. On page 26, it discusses the law regarding consent to sexual contact. Unlawful sexual contact must be reported. The key there is the term “unlawful”. For example, if a boyfriend is successful in presenting an “affirmative defense to prosecution” related to minor sexual contact, then his act will not be adjudged “unlawful”. Therefore, a boyfriend could defend, and the girlfriend could support, that he did not use duress, force, or a threat and has no such history either.

      You may have to answer some questions, but if you do not act like anything is wrong, indeed, speak of each other in high regard, then it is more likely others will be accepting of the situation.

      A 14-year-old does not have the right to move out without parental permission and may be forced to return home by the police if reported as a runaway.

      A person cannot be kidnapped if they go voluntarily.

  2. I am from CA and I’m 17 and 30 weeks pregnant. I moved out of my parents house and now live with my boyfriend. I was told from a lawyer of the National Youth Law Center of Sacramento that I could check myself out from school to go to my prenatal appointments without my parents’ permission. I had an appointment last week and I was denied the right to go off school for my appointment.

  3. I am from Idaho. I am 17 and pregnant. My boyfriend just turned 18. Can he get in trouble?

    • Dear Jessica:

      Title 18 Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 15 applies. 18-1506 limits the crime of sexual abuse to a child under age 16. 18-1508 limits the crime of lewd conduct with a minor to a child under sixteen. 18-1508A limits the crime of sexual battery of a minor child to age 16 or 17, but the perpetrator must be at least five years older than that minor. See Idaho Legislature for these laws.

  4. I’m 17 and pregnant. I have a 2-year-old daughter already and an open case with child services because of our age difference at the time. If I go get checked and child services finds out, which I know they will, can they take my kids away or arrest my mom? I live in Georgia?

    • Dear Felisha:

      Child Services can’t take children away from a parent who has not been deemed unfit. Parents who take good care of their children are not at risk. I don’t see the relevance of the level of care and a near adult parent choosing to having sex.

      How would Child Services find out about a pregnancy unless they did a home visit. The Department of Human Services may find out as a result of providing insurance coverage or other services.

      A parent could only be arrested if they broke the law, such as if they neglected or abused their child. A parent can hardly be held responsible if their child has sex, unless they forced them to for example.

  5. I have a friend who is 17 and her boyfriend is 19. She thinks she might be pregnant but she doesn’t live with the people who have custody of her. There is a missing persons file for her. Would she be able to return home and would her baby be taken from her when she has it?

    • Dear Kasi:

      Yes, the friend would be able to return “home” and no, her baby would not be taken from her when she has it. Babies are not taken from their parents unless there is a formal (court) determination that the parent is unfit. A mother will be deemed fit until there is some evidence that she is not taking care of her baby.

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