'Special Weight' for Best-Interests Minors in the New Era of Parental Autonomy

52 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2004

See all articles by Richard F. Storrow

Richard F. Storrow

City University of New York School of Law

Sandra Martinez

Attorney at Law


In the context of abortion, parental notification and consent statutes attempt to strike a balance between a young woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy and her parents' right to autonomy in making childrearing decisions. Where a minor is mature and well informed enough to make her decision on her own, or where she would be at risk of abuse or neglect if her parents learned of her decision, these statutes allow her not to involve her parents if she obtains a judicial bypass. Increasingly, these statutes include a third basis - best interests - for allowing a minor to make her decision without parental involvement, but according to what rationale is unclear. In this Article, Professor Storrow and Ms. Martinez articulate a theoretical foundation for granting best-interests minors a judicial bypass. After reviewing the underpinnings of parental notification and consent statutes and analyzing recent developments in the constitutional protection of parental autonomy, the authors conclude that a best-interests minor, like a parent defending against a third-party visitation petition, is entitled to special respect when she elects to terminate her pregnancy.

Keywords: Abortion, parental notification, parental consent, judicial bypass, children's rights, parental autonomy, best interests, third-party visitation, family privacy, constitutional law

Suggested Citation

Storrow, Richard F. and Martinez, Sandra, 'Special Weight' for Best-Interests Minors in the New Era of Parental Autonomy. Wisconsin Law Review, pp. 789-840, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=486968

Richard F. Storrow (Contact Author)

City University of New York School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101-4356
United States
(718) 340-4538 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.cuny.edu/faculty/directory/storrow.html

Sandra Martinez

Attorney at Law ( email )

1305 Prairie, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77002

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