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THE RIGHTS OF                        
Pregnant &
Parenting Teens

A Guide to the Law in New York State

NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project Authors

Annie Keating
Donna Lieberman, Esq.
Jana Lipman
Miriam Spiro, Esq.

Contributing Authors

Jill Chaifetz, Esq., Advocates for Children
Vanessa Cherena, Advocates for Children
Don Friedman, Esq., Community Food Resource Center
Kim Hawkins, Esq., New York University Law School
Jennifer Light, Esq., Welfare Law Center
Sandy Socolar, Welfare Reform Network Child Care Committee

Child Care
Health Care
Paternity and Custody
Teens and Public Assistance
Teens in Foster Care
Important Resources


The NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project supports young people by empowering them to understand their rights and advocate for themselves. This booklet is a tool for teenagers and the professionals who work with them.

Pregnant and parenting teens are too often marginalized and stigmatized by the very agencies that are supposed to provide them with vital services. These young women face immense pressures as they navigate complex bureaucracies. The NYCLU has responded to numerous complaints that reveal widespread misinformation and discriminatory practices which violate the rights and well-being of pregnant and parenting adolescents.

In response to this problem, this booklet seeks to provide accessible information about the legal rights of pregnant and parenting teens. Through focus groups with young people and the professionals who work with them, the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project identified key legal concerns and sought to address some of these. The guide is divided into the following sections: Education, Child Care, Health Care, Paternity and Custody, Teens and Public Assistance, Teens in Foster Care, and Important Resources.

We hope that these pages will offer useful information, serving as a guide and a starting point for young people and youth service providers.

This booklet is not intended to provide individualized legal advice. A young person who faces a specific legal problem should seek advice from an attorney. The Important Resources section in the back of this booklet, although far from comprehensive, offers some starting points for those seeking further assistance.

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