Legal standards that allow teens to make health care decisions, or any important decisions, must account for the contingency and variability of minors’ capacity. Traditional law denied minors’ legal authority to make any decisions, giving all power to parents. This rule goes too far; the Supreme Court has held that minors have constitutionally protected autonomy-based rights, and modern views about adolescence are inconsistent with the rule. The question is how and where to draw lines.
Legal standards are based on minors’ evolving maturity, policy favoring decisions that follow medical advice, and policy supporting parental authority. This paper uses four hard cases to show how these considerations factor into legal rules.
Harris, L.J. (2017), "Teen Health Care Decisions: How Maturity and Social Policy Affect Four Hard Cases", Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 72), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 185-217. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1059-433720170000072006
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