Can a Minor Get Medical Treatment in New York?

The New York law defines a minor as a person under the age of 18. A minor is denied certain rights under the law, such as the right to vote or run for elected office. A minor is also entitled to additional protection,
such as financial support by a parent.

Under New York law, the following categories of minors may legally consent to all, or much, of their own health care including:

  • Pregnant teens
  • Minors who are parents
  • Married minors
  • Minors serving in the armed forces
  • Emancipated minors
  • Incarcerated minors


In addition, a minor who understands the risks and benefits of proposed and alternative treatments can consent to the following types of care:

  • Reproductive health care, including family planning (i.e., birth control, including emergency contraception), abortion, pregnancy/prenatal care, care during labor and delivery, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
  • Certain mental health services;
  • Certain alcohol and drug abuse services; and
  • Sexual assault treatment.
  • Providers also can treat minors in an emergency without parental consent.


When treating minors who do not fit into one of the categories described above or when providing other types of care, health care providers must ordinarily obtain parental consent.


Example of Medical Treatment for a Minor in New York

Question: Dana is 17. She goes to her doctor to be treated for genital herpes. Does the doctor need to get Dana’s parents’ permission before treating her?

Answer: No. A minor has the legal right to consent to health care for sexually transmitted infections. So long as Dana has the capacity to consent, meaning that she understands the risks and benefits of the proposed and alternative treatments, parental consent is not required.


A Minor’s Right to Consent

A minor’s right to consent to health care depends on two questions.

  1. Does the minor have the legal right to consent (either because the minor is part of a group to whom the law gives
    this right or because the minor is seeking a type of health care for which the law allows a minor to give independent consent.
  2. Does the minor have the capacity to consent, meaning the maturity and intelligence to assess the risks and benefits of proposed treatments and alternatives, so as to give informed consent? These two aspects of consent together are prerequisites to the treatment of minors based on their own decisions. In order to authorize treatment independently, a minor must have both the legal right to consent and the capacity to give informed consent.


If either of these is missing, the consent of a legally responsible adult will be necessary.

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The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.