Access to reproductive health care is critical to young people. Research shows that barriers to access include the following factors:
Some health care providers do not feel comfortable serving young people who are sexually active;
Young people may feel awkward using services that do not meet their needs;
Community members often feel that youth should not be provided such services.
Young people, like adults are legally entitled to basic sexual and reproductive health rights, including the right to dignified, respectful treatment, the right to a full range of accessible, affordable services; and the right to private confidential services.
Patient confidentiality is a critical component in adolescent reproductive health care. In August 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) cited the results of a survey conducted in Wisconsin. The survey asked girls, under 18 years of age, if they would continue to seek medical care for prescribed contraceptives and testing/treatment for HIV, STDs , if parental notification was mandatory. The results indicated,
"59% of the girls said they would stop using all sexual health care services, delay testing or treatment for HIV or other STDs, or discontinue use of specific (but not all) sexual health care services if their parents were informed that they were seeking prescribed contraceptives". ( JAMA, August 14,2002)
Barriers to Access
Some other barriers to access to reproductive health care are: ease of access (location, transportation, hours of operation), cost, lack of developmentally appropriate care, and other cultural barriers (language, cultural values, trust).
Public health care clinics strive to reduce access barriers and unmet health care needs. Through the Family Planning Project
, youth are able to pay for services based on their individual income. Local Health Departments
are operational in 32 of the 36 counties in Oregon.