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Age Of Legal Medical Consent

Traditionally, children have been deemed legally incapable of consenting to their own medical care or treatment. In general, parents have the authority to decide whether their minor children will receive medical treatment. Common law recognized an exception to the need for parental consent in cases of emergency. Statutory law has created more exceptions to this requirement, namely in cases where a child is emancipated, married, pregnant, or a parent. In addition, several states have enacted "minor treatment statutes," which typically provide that from 14 to 17 years old, a minor may consent to ordinary medical treatment. When a parent refuses to consent to medical attention for a seriously ill or dying child, even if on religious grounds, the states may act according to their PARENS PATRIAE power and obtain a court order to secure the necessary medical treatment.

Owing to a high incidence of venereal diseases among teenagers, all states have adopted statutes authorizing minors to consent to the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Similarly, most states have laws allowing a child to seek treatment for alcohol or drug abuse without parental consent.

Constitutional guarantees of the right to abortion extend to minors, as does the right to privacy. The Supreme Court has upheld state statutes that require the consent of only one parent if the statutes also offer an expeditious judicial bypass procedure (a hearing before a judge in which the minor requests that parental consent be waived). States can no longer absolutely require two-parent notification or consent before a minor may undergo an abortion.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Indirect evidence to Internal Revenue CodeInfants - Legal Rights Of Children, Child Protection, Constitutional Rights Of Children In The Educational Setting, Age Of Legal Medical Consent