New law to help pregnant teens get health care

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More help is on the way for Indiana’s pregnant teenagers.

On July 1, state law will change to make it easier for them to get medical services. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 1,300 Hoosier babies were born to mothers aged 15-17 in 2016. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Indiana had the 12th highest teen birth rate in the nation in 2017.

“We’ve noticed that during that prenatal time, also during the time in delivery and during that post-care, that the parents aren’t there or their guardian is not there,” said State Rep. Robin Shackleford, a Democrat from Indianapolis, on Friday. 

Which is why Democrat State Rep. Robin Shackleford co-authored a new state law that allows pregnant teenagers aged 16 or 17 to get health care without their parent or guardian’s permission.

“In that situation, we’re allowing the teenager to take their own health care and their responsibility and be responsible for their child’s health care.” Shackleford said.

According to Shackleford, the bill requires health care providers to try to reach the parents before moving forward at each stage of care.

Shackleford said she believes the bill will help lower Indiana’s infant mortality rate. Indiana had the seventh worst rate in the nation in 2017, according to the CDC.

“You’ll be able to see where those teens are actually being able to take care of their own babies and prevent those deaths.” Shackleford said.

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