Rights & Confidentiality

Your right to:

Confidentiality | Affordable Care
Healthcare Services | Safe Schools

As a young person in Rhode Island, you have the right to lead a healthy life by having full access to confidential and affordable health care. Your legal right to sexual and reproductive health care includes accessing birth control, condoms, emergency contraception, abortion, pregnancy testing, prenatal care, STI testing and treatment.

 

Your Right to Confidentiality in Rhode Island

Confidentiality means that you can access the services you need without anybody knowing. Though Rhode Island law does not clearly outline access to confidential services for minors, the one clear exception is STI/HIV testing, which people under 18 are able to receive without parental permission.

If you are covered by another person’s health insurance plan (like your parent or spouse), you can complete a Confidential Communications Request, which is available from your health insurer; some health insurers may allow you to request an alternate address or email address by calling customer service.

This form lets the insurance plan know that you want all information about the care you accessed sent directly to you, not to the person who has the health insurance, like your parent or spouse.

The information can be sent to an alternate mailing address or email address or by a phone call directly to you. If you want to complete this form, let your health care provider know (you’ll need to know the name of your insurer).

Here are customer service numbers for health insurers in Rhode Island:

It’s important to know that there are some situations where a provider may be required to share your personal information with others outside your care team.

This would happen if they believe you are putting yourself or someone else in danger, or if they believe that you have been abused or neglected or have been the victim of sexual abuse. This is called mandatory reporting, and it is a way to keep you safe and get you the support you need.

Your Right to Affordable Care in Rhode Island

If you don’t have insurance:

Rhode Island’s Title X (Title Ten) program, which provides affordable birth control and reproductive health care to people with low incomes, can help teens access many sexual and reproductive health services, like STI/HIV testing and treatment, pregnancy tests, prescription birth control, and counseling. It also includes preventive services, like physical exams and cancer screenings, but it does not pay for abortions or prenatal care.

The services provided under the Title X program are confidential, meaning you can use these services without an adult’s permission. The costs are determined based on your income, including options for services at no cost if you make below a certain amount.

For a listing of organizations offering sexual and reproductive health services, visit the Find Care & Condoms in Rhode Island page.

If you have insurance:

It probably pays for pregnancy tests, STI testing and treatment, and abortions. If it covers prescription drugs, that should include birth control methods like pills, shots, and diaphragms.

If you are covered by another person’s health insurance plan (like your parent or spouse) and don’t want them to find out, there are ways to protect your confidentiality. See Confidentiality above.

Your Right to Healthcare Services in Rhode Island

Depending on the service you are looking for, you may (or may not) need the permission of a parent or guardian.

Medical/Surgical Care

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island:

  • If you are age 16 or over, NO
  • If you are under 16 and aren’t pregnant
    or a parent, **you need parental permission**

More info about Rhode Island:

  • A minor (under age 16) parent can give permission to treatment of their child
  • A pregnant minor (under age 16) may get treatment for medical, dental, health, and hospital services relating to prenatal, delivery, and post-delivery care without a parent or guardian’s permission
  • A minor (under age 16) cannot get an abortion or sterilization procedure without a parent or guardian’s permission

Sexually Transmitted Infection
(STI) Testing & Treatment

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island: NO

Learn more about STIs

Find services for STI testing and treatment

HIV/AIDS Testing & Treatment

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island: NO

Rhode Island healthcare providers can test for HIV without permission from the patient if:

  • The patient is less than 1 year old
  • The patient is age 13 or under and is showing symptoms of HIV
  • The patient is a minor in DCYF custody
  • The patient has been exposed to HIV in a healthcare setting
  • The patient is in a psychiatric or medical emergency

Learn more about STIs

Find services for STI testing and treatment

Condoms

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island:

  • NO, people of any age can buy condoms

Learn more about condoms

Get free condoms by mail or at various Rhode Island locations

Birth Control

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island:

  • If you are age 16 or over, NO
  • If you are age 11 or over, you may get care at any Title X healthcare site without parental permission

Learn more about birth control

Find places to get birth control

Emergency Contraception

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island:

  • NO you can buy emergency contraception (which is NOT the abortion pill) over the counter at any pharmacy

Learn more about emergency contraception

Reproductive Healthcare
(Family Planning)

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island:

  • If you are age 16 or over, NO
  • If you are age 11 or over, you may get care at any Title X healthcare site without parental permission

More info about Rhode Island:

  • Title X providers must encourage family participation in decision-making
  • Title X providers must counsel minors on resisting being forced into sexual activity

Abortion

Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission? In Rhode Island:

  • If you are age 18 or over, NO
  • If you are under 18, **you need parental permission** – however, a judge can bypass this requirement. Learn more here.
Your Right to Safe Schools

Everyone has the right to SCHOOLS SAFE FROM SEXUAL VIOLENCE, regardless of gender. Remember that sexual violence is not just rape. It includes many forms of unwanted sexual attention, including physical contact and harassment.

If you have experienced any kind of sexual violence at school, you can (and should) report it to your school leaders (according to Title IX – prounounced Title Nine – of the Educational Amendments of 1972). Every school/district must have a Title IX coordinator who can support any report of sexual harassment or misconduct.

Title IX gives survivors of sexual violence at any public school the legal right to ask for and receive “supportive measures” from their school after they have suffered sexual violence. These supportive measures may include no-contact orders, schedule changes or assignment extensions, along with others that may be helpful for a survivor. Learn more about Title IX and your rights at school at knowyourix.org.

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