Get Real! Did My Stepmother Lie to Me About My Right to Birth Control?

Heather Corinna

While parents have the right not to pay for your birth control, they do not have the right to keep you from obtaining it yourself or using it.

Audrey asks:

would appreciate a little light shed on my question, it puzzles me
greatly. I asked a good while ago if I could start on Birth Control,
and my father actually wouldn’t mind, in fact, he supports it. My
stepmother, on the other hand, doesn’t seem comfortable with it.
Despite the obvious discomfort, she said she’d call her doctor and see
what she could do. Days later, she told me they won’t take anyone under
18. This confused me. I know many teenagers on Birth Control. I hope
she’s not just saying that, although it wouldn’t be the first time she
did something rather similar to that. At first I got the feeling that
she thought I would change if I was on the pill, like I was invincible
and I could never get pregnant, so I can have sex whenever I want. The
thing is, I’m not sexually active, I’m a virgin. I often get the
feeling she thinks I’m a tramp. I would NEVER think in that fashion.
So, my question to you, do you have to be a certain age to consult a
doctor about Birth Control? And although I’m only 16, would that be my
personal choice to take the pill? Or do they have a say in it until I’m
a legal adult?

Heather replies:

some doctors may choose not to see children or adolescents in their
practice, period — because they just don’t specialize in that group —
it sounds far more likely your stepmother was simply being dishonest
with you.

Appreciate our work?

Rewire is a non-profit independent media publication. Your tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.


If her doctor was someone who chose only to see adults, he or she
most certainly would have given her a reference for you to see another

You do not have to be a certain age to talk to a doctor about
anything at all, including about contraception. You also do not have to
be a certain age to obtain methods of contraception from a doctor, and
the only place there would be age limitations would be for methods
which a doctor felt were not good choices for someone your age. For
instance, Depo-Provera isn’t always a good choice for very young women
because of bone mass concerns. IUDs often aren’t comfortable for women
who have not been pregnant before. Most doctors will not approve
permanent sterilizations for young adults. In addition, while a parent
certainly has the right and the ability not to pay for your birth
control they do not have the right to keep you from obtaining it
yourself or using it. It’s solely up to you, and in your control, as to
whether or not you acquire and use methods of contraception.

I don’t know what the overall dynamic is like in your home beyond
this situation, but it sounds to me like this is something you should
talk to your stepmother herself or your father about. If one or both of
them do not want you using birth control, you deserve a candid,
forthright discussion about why, rather than to be manipulated or lied
to. If one of them is supportive of you in this way and the other is
not, as co-parents, they need to work that out amongst themselves or
with you like grownups. It seems like it might also be helpful to
address those ideas you think she has. Ideally, she’d have been the
adult here and done that with you, but you’re becoming an adult, too,
and can go ahead and take the wheel of that discussion if she has not.

If you do want to call this out, what I’d suggest is just asking for
a family meeting, or for time to talk to whichever parent you want to
talk to.

I’d calmly explain that you’re aware that teens do not have to be 18
to obtain birth control, and that you feel you may have been deceived.
I’d ask if that was the case, then ask why if your stepmother admits
she was not truthful. I’d also state that you feel like you have a
right to be communicated with honestly, and that if one or both of them
has an objection to you using birth control, or helping you get it, you
deserve to be part of a real discussion about that. Again, be calm, and
be an active listener. The high ground here is yours, so keep it. Even
though either of them does have the right to prefer not being part of
getting you contraception, you still deserve the respect of just being
told that outright, and you still have the right to obtain it on your
own and know that’s something you’ll need to do for yourself if one or
both of them doesn’t want to help or support you in it. You might find
that this link
for parents about talking to teens in regard to contraception is
helpful for you, or may even be something you want to print out for
your family.

If that’s not a conversation you want to have, or you don’t want to
confront one or both of them on this, know that you can go see a sexual
healthcare provider on your own. I don’t know what country you’re in,
but in most areas, you can do that by either scheduling a visit with
your family doctor yourself (you don’t specifically need a gynecologist
for this: most general physicians provide pelvic exams, STI testing and
prescribe contraception), or by visiting a general or sexual healthcare
clinic, like Planned Parenthood here in the U.S. or Canada, or through
independent public clinics. If you’re not sure what’s available in your
area, you can use your local phone directory to find out, or ask a
friend who she sees for her birth control and sexual healthcare.

However you get to a healthcare provider for contraception, you may
find it handy to inform yourself about methods in advance so that you
can have some idea of which might be best for you, and know what your
questions about any method may be so you can be sure to ask them. So, have a look here for that information, and good luck in working this out.

Load More

We report on health, rights, and justice. Now, more than ever, we need your support to fight for our independent reporting.

Thank you for reading Rewire!