National Center for Youth Law


Arneth v. Gross

Plaintiffs, consisting of a group of foster youth and the Medical Coordinator for the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin ( “the Mission”), sought a preliminary injunction against defendants the state and city of New York, as well as the Mission. Plaintiffs sought to end the Mission’s policy of refusing to let foster youth living at the Mission group homes access or use contraceptive medication or devices. Plaintiffs alleged that the policy created a “significant health risk due to unwanted pregnancies in addition to the collateral negative aspects surrounding abortions (irreparable injury).”



86 Civ 3296 (District Court, New York, 1988)


699 F. Supp. 450 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)


Jeffrey C. Thrope
Foley & Lardner LLP
9 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016
212 338 3568


In April of 1986, the Mission began requiring its foster youth residents to follow a longstanding (but formerly unenforced) policy that banned the use or possession of contraceptives. Subsequently, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the state and city of New York, as well as the Mission and its representatives.  Plaintiffs sought certification as a class, as well as a preliminary injunction against implementation of the Mission’s policy.  On June 20, 1986, the Mission informally agreed with the Court to stay its policy.

On October 20, 1988, the court certified as a class those foster youth residing in the Mission between April and June 1986, the only known time period during which the Mission’s anti-contraception policy was enforced. The court denied preliminary injunctive relief against the state and city of New York, because the court found that both entities acted appropriately to respond to the perceived Constitutional violation upon learning of the Mission’s policy. The Mission was ordered to appear before the court on December 9, 1988 to discuss injunctive relief to the plaintiff class.

The court held that “minors have a constitutional privacy right to practice artificial contraception absent compelling state considerations to the contrary, and this is not diminished because they are in foster care.”