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Unpublished Paper
16 and Pregnant: Minors' Consent to Abortion and Adoption
ExpressO (2012)
  • Malinda L. Seymore, Texas Wesleyan University
A minor girl’s decision about the resolution of an unplanned pregnancy is a highly contested issue. Especially contentious is the minor’s ability to consent to an abortion without the assistance of an adult such as her parents or a judge. That issue has received substantial attention from policy makers, scholars, judges and legislators. Almost no attention has been paid, however, to the decision of a minor parent to continue her pregnancy, relinquish her constitutionally-protected parental rights and place a child for adoption. In 37 states, a minor’s abortion decision is regulated differently from the decision of an adult’s, while in only 15 states is a minor’s decision to relinquish parental rights and consent to adoption treated any differently from an adult’s decision. Informed by new neuro-scientific advances in the understanding of minors’ decision-making, as well as law’s traditional treatment of minors’ decision-making in areas other than abortion, together with the legal treatment of minors’ abortion decisions, there seems little justification for leaving minors’ decisions about adoption unregulated. The justifications often advanced for the need for parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision – the physical/medical risks, the psychological/emotional effects, and the importance of the decision – apply with equal force to the decision about adoption placement. The decision about adoption placement also differs from the abortion decision in at least one crucial respect – the legal complexity of the adoption decision, which implicates constitutionally-protected parental rights, adds another layer to the medical and moral decisions present in abortion. All states should require that minor mothers have independent legal counsel when making the decision about relinquishment of parental rights and consent to adoption placement.
  • Birth mothers,
  • adoption,
  • parental rights,
  • abortion,
  • adolescents
Publication Date
August 2, 2012
Citation Information
Malinda L. Seymore. "16 and Pregnant: Minors' Consent to Abortion and Adoption" ExpressO (2012)
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