When is a 'Minor' also an 'Adult'?: An Adolescent's Liberty Interest in Accessing Contraceptives from Public School Distribution Programs
32 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2007 Last revised: 19 Sep 2009
This article analyzes the clash between a minor's liberty interest in obtaining contraceptives from a public school, parents' right to raise their children as they see fit and retain the ability to approve their children's participation in these types of programs, and the state's compelling interest in combating today's high rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs. The article argues that in this area of sexual health, the rights of minors must outweigh the rights of their parents. Additionally, the article states that courts should affirmatively declare that a minor's fundamental right to make decisions about his or her own sexual health is a fundamental right that, once a school decides to promulgate a condom distribution program, must be viewed under the lens of strict scrutiny. The article concludes that under this framework, a parental consent or opt-out provision fails strict scrutiny review, because the rights of minors are elevated in this context and because the state has a compelling interest to promote safer sex for minors who choose to engage in sexual activity.
Keywords: condom, public distribution, school, minors, student, contraceptive, parental rights, AIDS, STDs, teenage pregnancy, fundamental rights, Wisconsin v. Yoder, right to raise child, sexual health, parental consent, parental opt-out, safe sex, abstinence, public health clinic, liberty interest
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