Thursday, March 30, 2023

Parental Rights!

What are parental rights, the term is gathering legs and it made me wonder what are their rights?

The conservatives look at it as an on off switch… click. You’re 18 and all of sudden you have all your “rights” 17 years 264 days no rights and the next day you now have all your rights.

Liberals look at it as a transition of rights, the law looks at as a phased in process.

Then there is the emancipation of minors which when they turn 16 and they can get all the rights of an adult. From the 211 website,


To be emancipated in Connecticut the youth must be at least sixteen years old and also must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • must be in a valid marriage whether or not that marriage has been terminated by dissolution
  • must be serving in the United States armed forces
  • must be living apart from your parents or guardian and be managing your own finances
  • the court must determine that an emancipation is in the best interests of you, or your parents, or your minor child if you have one.

But that is like the nuclear option, only for the last resort.

So what are the soft transition options. Findlaw has a good article about this topic,

What are the Legal Rights of Children?

Children, or minors, don't have the full legal capacity of adults. Typically, minors aren't granted the rights of adults until they reach the age of 18, although this varies from state to state. For example, in Alabama and Nebraska the age of majority is 19. In Mississippi, it's 21.

Because children are still developing both physically and mentally, they aren't considered capable of handling the same rights as mature adults. For example, children don't have certain political rights like the right to vote. They can also not own property, consent to medical treatment, sue or be sued, or enter into certain types of contracts. As their level of competency concerning these matters is considered to fall below required thresholds, children are not afforded these rights.

However, children do have some legal rights as soon as they are born. They are entitled to human rights and civil rights, for example, as any other human being is. They also receive other rights as they grow up. Additionally, children are able to access some of the rights available only to adults, such as legal actions, when a parent or legal guardian acts on their behalf.

Did you get that? “... Additionally, children are able to access some of the rights available only to adults…” So a parent rights are not absolute.

Some of the legal rights of children are acquired as children grow, depending on their age and level of maturity. For example, children have a limited right to free speech. In many instances, children are encouraged to form opinions and freely speak their mind. However, schools may limit the child's speech if they feel it could harm other students. This rule can have strikingly different applications for student bodies of different ages. For example, a student painting that features nudity might be inappropriate in middle school, while it might be considered cutting-edge art in high school.

In my search I came across this article in Science Direct

Exploration for physicians of the mature minor doctrine

The “mature minor doctrine” is the common-law rule that allows an adolescent who is mature to give consent for medical care. Ethical decisions regarding consent and confidentiality should be distinguished from legal requirements. Recent court decisions have altered the law, especially in regard to consent for refusal of life-sustaining treatment…

...There is minimal legal risk in allowing adolescents older than 14 years of age to give consent for treatments entailing small degrees of risk, when they can make adultlike decisions and demonstrate signs of maturity.

And that lead me to U.S. Legal,

The Mature Minor Doctrine

The “mature minor” doctrine provides for minors to give consent to medical procedures if they can show that they are mature enough to make a decision on their own. It is a relatively new legal concept, and as of 2002 only a few states such as Arkansas and Nevada have enacted the doctrine into statute. In several other states, including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, Maine and Massachusetts, state high courts have adopted the doctrine as law.

In the states where it exists, the mature minor doctrine takes into account the age and situation of the minor to determine maturity, in addition to factors and conduct that can prove maturity. The Arkansas statute states, “any unemancipated minor of sufficient intelligence to understand and appreciate the consequences of the proposed surgical or medical treatment or procedures, for himself [may offer consent].” The standard is typical of the requirements of the mature minor doctrine.

So there does seem to be precedent for a soft turn for the rights of minors.

When I see laws for “Parental Rights” a chill goes up my spine because it leaves out the rights of a child to make their decisions on their lives.

When I was a lonely MSW intern I was sent to a meeting with a state agency.

Taking a step backwards for a second. My MSW is not in micro but macro… I don’t treat patients, I organize rallies, protests, work on legislation, etc. So when I was asked by my field instructor about my support network I thought that I will never need one because I’m macro. Boy was I wrong!

So I was sent to a meeting at a state agency, they were looking for a foster home or shelter for a 16 year old. This 16 year old came out as trans and was tossed out on to the street by her parents in NYC, she made her way to Connecticut and was sleeping in the bus station. She was befriended by a pimp who hooked on heroin and pimped her out where she got busted.

She told the police about the pimp and he put a contract out on her. Someone tried to shot her as she came put of the court house. The state agency was now looking for a safe house for a 17 yo former heroin addict with a contract out on her.

I needed my support network that night.

So this brings me back to “Parental Rights” there are great parents and then there are shitty parents, the type that throws their child out on the street to let something like what happened to child. The Republicans don’t care what the parents are like, they see the power of the parent over their child as absolute. No exception, a dictatorial power over the child.

So what do you all think? All or nothing or a phased in of children’s rights.

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