Recently, the Supreme Court has begun to limit the parental
authority over the rights of the child. This can be seen in the abortion
context.171 “The Court was more willing to impose more
comprehensive judicial procedures to protect the fundamental rights
of minors.”172 Once the child could express an intelligent and mature
basis for wanting to exercise her rights apart from her parents, the
court has allowed the child to exercise her individual Fourteenth
Amendment rights.173 “[T]he Court concluded in Bellotti v. Baird
that society’s interest in safeguarding parental authority and
preserving family unity was outweighed by the rights of mature
minors to obtain an abortion without their parents’ consent.”174 Some
determinations deeming children mature enough and capable of
exercising their rights intelligently are defined in statutes based on
age, such as when they may drive a vehicle, vote in federal and state
elections, or drink alcoholic beverages. To deny the exercise of these
rights to an adult would not be permissible. “In mediating conflict
between the rights and interests of children and their parents, the
Court has often imposed procedural safeguards that vary with the
nature of the interest at stake and has recognized the maturity of
some minors to make their own decisions and protect their own
However, in protecting the integrity of the family, the courts
must balance the rights of the entire family.176 “The state must guard
not only [children’s] current liberty, but also their future liberty. It
must deny all others, including parents, the right to deprive the young
either of their basic liberty during their immaturity, or their ability to
171 Bellotti, 443 U.S. at 633-34.
172 Henning, supra note 53, at 81.
175 Id. at 82.
176 OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 10A, § 1-1-102 (West 2013). The Oklahoma Children’s
Code provides the foundation and process for state intervention into the parent-child relationship whenever the circumstances of a family threaten the safety of a
child and to properly balance the interests of the parties stated herein.