Below are resources to assist schools in developing policies/protocols related to confidentiality and pregnant students.
All health records established and maintained pursuant to
this act shall be confidential, and their contents shall be divulged only when necessary for the
health of the child or at the request of the parent or guardian to a physician legally qualified to
practice medicine and surgery or osteopathy or osteopathic surgery in the Commonwealth.
(a) Use of a student’s confidential
communications to school personnel in legal proceedings is governed by statutes and regulations appropriate to the
proceeding. See, for example, 42 Pa.C.S. § 5945 (relating
to confidential communications to school personnel).
(b) Information received in confidence from a
student may be revealed to the student’s parents or guardians, the principal or
other appropriate authority when the health, welfare or safety of the student or other persons is clearly in jeopardy.
This is the primary
reference for confidential communications related to pregnancy. Some schools/school
nurses feel that all teen pregnancies are high risk and have their policies
written that the parent will be
notified in all cases. Other policies only tell parents when there are
complications, such as high BP or
suspected tubal pregnancy. The school also has to take into account the Minors’
Consent Act, which
is outlined below from the Juvenile Law Center. Any minor who has “been pregnant” is given
the authority to authorize her own health care, without parental consent
(except for abortions).
Consent to Treatment
and Confidentiality Provisions Affecting Minors in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law also allows minors -- which are defined
for purposes of this manual as persons under the age of 18 -- to consent to a wide variety of medical
testing and treatment and health care services; in these cases, the consent of the minor's
parent/guardian is not needed.
Treatment and Health Care Services
Under the Minors' Consent Act, a minor who has graduated
from high school, has been pregnant or has married can consent to medical, dental and health
services for himself/herself. (It is important to note that the Minors' Consent Act allows any minor who
has "been pregnant" to authorize her own health care; the statute
does not require that the minor have actually given birth.) If a minor fits
into one of these categories, parental consent is not required. Because
"medical, dental, and health services" are not further defined or
enumerated by the Minors' Consent Act, minors who meet the above criteria can
consent to all such service s unless otherwise prohibited by state law.
The Minors' Consent Act also allows any minor to consent to
testing and treatment for what are known as "reportable diseases" under the
Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955. "Reportable diseases" are defined in the Disease Prevention and
Control Law of 1955 as those communicable and non-communicable diseases declared reportable either by
state regulation or by the state Secretary of Health.
Health, Birth Control,
Pregnancy Testing and Prenatal Care
Minors can obtain contraception (birth control) without
parental consent or involvement. Under the Minors' Consent Act, any minor can consent to testing for
pregnancy, and medical and health "services to treat pregnancy, including prenatal care.
Updated: May 2018