Below is a summary of laws in the state of Missouri as of July 1, 2013. 

Family Planning and Contraception

-No law specifically requires parental consent for minors to obtain contraceptives; some physicians can and do prescribe them to minors without informing their parents, it is worth calling to find out first.

-Emergency Contraception is available without a prescription to those 17 and older. Due to debate on the federal level, those under 17 should call the pharmacy and ask what their policy is, as they may require a prescription for those under 17.

-Both boys and girls 17 and older can purchase Plan B

For information on laws in bordering states click here.

Pregnancy Testing and Prenatal Care

-Any minor may consent to pregnancy testing and all other medical care related to pregnancy (excluding abortion).
-Many clinics do not require parental involvement, call and ask first. Physicians and other health care providers may (are not prohibited from or required to) inform parents.

For information on laws in bordering states click here.

STI Testing

-Any minor may consent to testing and other medical care related  to STIs.

-Many clinics do not require parental involvement, call and ask first.

For information on laws in bordering states click here.

Abortion Services

-Minors must have written parental consent unless the minor is emancipated or a judicial bypass is granted

-There is a mandatory 72 hour waiting period in Missouri.

-A woman must receive state-directed counseling and information about abortion and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins.  Thus, two separate trips to the facility are necessary.

-Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

More information about Missouri abortion laws can be found here.
For information on laws in bordering states click here.



Rape and Sexual Assault

-Rape occurs if a person has sexual intercourse with another person who is incapacitated, incapable of consent, or lacks the capacity to consent, or by the use of forcible compulsion. 
-This includes the use of a substances administered without a victims knowledge or consent which makes the victim physically or mentally impaired and incapable of consenting to sexual activity.
-Minor victims of rape or sexual assault may consent to  a forensic medical examination.The hospital or physician conducting the exam must give written notification  to a parent or guardian that the exam has occurred.

Statutory Rape in Missouri

-Youth under age 14 cannot legally consent to sexual activity, thus making any sexual activity involving one or more people less than 14 statutory rape.

-Statutory rape also occurs when someone over age 21 has sexual contact with someone less than 17.


Adoption Laws

-A child must be at least 48 hours old before a consent to adoption is valid. -Once accepted by the court, the birth parents cannot change their minds and revoke the consent.
-If you sign an agreement with the adoptive parents for  visitation or other privileges, think of this as a moral, not  legal, agreement. If adoptive  parents change their minds, it will be difficult if not impossible to enforce the agreement.

Birth Father’s Rights
In Missouri, if the birth father cannot be located or refuses to sign the affidavit establishing the man as the baby’s father, the man can add his name to the Putative Father Registry.  This does not officially establish paternity, but it does establish a man’s claim to be the father of a child. If a man registers before or within 15 days of his child’s birth, he will be notified if there is an adoption proceeding involving the child. The adoption will then need his consent to continue.

Once the birth mother decides to put the child up for adoption, a diligent search will be done to locate the father.  If he is found, he will have an opportunity to contest (object to) the adoption.  If the birth father gets involved in the adoption by objecting to it, the birth mother will have no ability to cancel the surrender/consent or to regain parental rights. 

More information about Missouri adoption laws can be found here.



Surrendering an Infant ( Safe Haven Law)

The Missouri Safe Haven law allows for anyone to anonymously surrender a baby (up to 1 year-old). The baby will be kept safe and placed for adoption. No attempt to contact the birth parents will be made and no crime will have been committed. The baby can be left with an on-duty employee at any hospital, fire department, emergency medical professional or law enforcement agency, maternity center, or pregnancy resource center in Missouri. To read more about this process, click here.

Any infant up to one year of age can be surrendered.  Beginning August 28, 2013, an infant up to 45 days old can be surrendered without its parent(s) facing any charges.  From 45 days old and until the infant is one year old, charges can be filed (if the parents could be identified), however, the parent(s) have a valid defense when they show that they met the requirements of the law when the child was surrendered.  

Have questions about how Safe Haven laws work in Missouri or another state? Contact the National Safe Haven Alliance at 1-888-510-BABY.

For information on laws in bordering states click here.



Sexual Harassment

  • According to the Missouri Attorney General’s office, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed at a victim on the basis of gender. The Missouri Department of Labor clarifies that sexual harassment may or may not involve explicit sexual behavior.  
  • Although sexual harassment laws generally only apply to the employment context, recent Missouri precedent indicates that instances of sexual harassment in schools between students can create liability for the schools or districts.

For more information regarding sexual harassment visit: http://labor.mo.gov/mohumanrights/Discrimination/sex#harassment


 

Sexual Abuse

-A person commits sexual abuse if he subjects another person to sexual contact by the use of forcible compulsion (either physically or threatened)
-Sexual abuse in which the victim is less than 14 carries a higher punishment

(wording transferred directly as it is written in the law)

Incest

Involves marriage or sexual activity with a person he knows to be
-His ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption
-His stepchild, while the marriage creating the relationship exists
-His whole or half brother or sister
-His uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the whole blood

(wording transferred directly as it is written in the law)

Sexual Health Education

Missouri law does not require schools to teach sexual health education.  If a school chooses to teach sexual health education, it must be medically accurate or follow federal abstinence-only-unless-married guidelines.  Abstinence-only programs are not comprehensive and may contain misinformation.

To read the full law about what sexual health education is to contain, click here.

According to Missouri law, sexual health education must:

  1. Present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of sexual behavior.
  2. Stress that sexually transmitted diseases are serious, possible, health hazards of sexual activity.  Students shall be provided with the latest medical information regarding HIV, AIDS, HPV, hepatitis, and other STDs.
  3. Present students with the latest medically factual information OR follow the federal abstinence education law (42 U.S.C. Section 710).
  4. Include discussion of the possible emotional and psychological consequences of adolescent sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, as well as the advantages of adoption (including adoption of special needs children), and the process of making an adoption plan.
  5. Teach conflict management skills, personal responsibility, and positive self-esteem. Students shall be taught not to make unwanted physical or verbal sexual advances or otherwise exploit another person.  Students shall be taught to resist unwanted sexual advances and other negative peer pressure.
  6. Advise students of the laws pertaining to their financial responsibility to children born out of wedlock, and advise students of the laws pertaining to statutory rape.
    1. Policies concerning referrals and parental notification regarding contraception are to be determined by local school boards or charter schools.
    2. Student may be separated by gender during human sexuality instruction.
    3. The school board will determine the specific content of the district's or school's instruction in human sexuality (it must conform with sections 1-3 above) and will ensure that all instruction is age-appropriate.
    4. School districts must notify the parents of each student of the basic content of the human sexuality instruction and of the parent's right to remove the student from any part of the instruction.
    5. School districts must make all curriculum materials used in  human sexuality instruction available to the public before materials are used in instruction.
    6. No school district will provide abortion services, or allow a person who works for an organization that does to provide any course materials or instruction related to human sexuality or STDs.  Here, abortion services mean performing, inducing, assisting in the performance of an abortion not necessary to save the life of the mother; encouraging a patient to have an abortion or referring a patient for an abortion that is not  necessary to save the life of the mother; or developing or dispensing drugs, chemicals or devices intended to be used to induce an abortion which is not necessary to save the life of the mother.

 

More detailed information about these laws can be found at the Missouri Revised Statutes webpage.

Other states' laws can be found here.

Still not finding what you are looking for? Try the Center for Adolescent Health and the Law.

 

This information was gathered with the help of Stephen M. Lestmann, Attorney and Counselor at Law and students at the George Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.