adults also belong to children.118 Those rights “include the rights to
life, liberty, property, and freedom from deliberate harm.”119 But
when do rights become protected by the Constitution and enforceable
through the courts? As far as the right to life, it attaches to the child
at a certain term in utero.120 The right to liberty is up for debate since
Roe v. Wade121 as to when the court can take action, balancing the
rights of the woman and a viable unborn child. One of the challenges
is seen in Bellotti with the exercise of a minor’s right to obtain an
abortion without parental consent.122 In another instance, regarding
the right to property, it is a matter of determining age and maturity in
order for the child to act based upon his or her own best interest.123
The right to freedom from deliberate harm attaches immediately at
birth and is enforceable by the courts without question.124
It is not when the rights attach to the child that matters; it is
when these rights can be exercised by the child and balanced within
the framework of the parental rights and best interest of the child.125
According to the Bellotti court, a child may exercise his or her rights
independently of his or her parents when the child understands,
119 Id. at 6.
120 As the Court struggles with the issue of abortion, they have found that states
have an interest in the unborn child at the point of being viable. The state argues it
has an interest over the privacy rights of the mother to regulate in a limited manner
the issue of abortion on behalf of the fetus. See Webster v. Reprod. Health Servs.,
492 U.S. 490, 520 (1989).
121 Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
122 Bellotti, 443 U.S. at 640-41.
123 Pavlides v. Niles Gun Show, Inc., 637 N.E.2d 404, 409 (Ohio Ct. App. 1994)
(stating minors are prohibited from purchasing guns or ammunition); see Berg v.
Traylor, 56 Cal. Rptr. 3d 140, 146-47 (Ct. App. 2007) (placing a limitation on
minors signing contracts); see also Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U.S. 525,
588-89 (2001) (Thomas, J., concurring) (stating that every state prohibits the sale
of alcohol to those under age twenty-one).
124 R.W.D. v. Walker Cnty. Dep’t of Human Res., 808 So. 2d 46, 48 (Ala. Civ.
App. 2001) (removing a child that tested positive for cocaine at birth from the care
of the parents); see also In re C.L.G., 956 A.2d 999, 1005 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2008)
(involuntarily terminating the parental rights of a mother who was incarcerated).
125 Bellotti, 443 U.S. at 635.