individuality, their independence and their self-reliance.”91 The UN Declaration on the Rights of
the Child also reflects this mentality, stating “(1) No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or
unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful
attacks on his or her honor and reputation. (2) The child has the right to the protection of the law
against such interference or attacks.”92
Cases about children’s rights to privacy reflect this balance between the fundamental nature
of some rights and a developmental approach to children’s decision-making. Planned Parenthood
v. Danforth in 1976 established that a minor may have a right to obtain an abortion without
requiring consent of her parents in certain circumstances.93 Carey v. Population Services
International recognized the rights of minors to contraceptives, holding that the “right to privacy
in connection with decisions affecting procreation extends to minors as well as to adults.”94 The
Court took an interesting turn in children’s privacy jurisprudence in Belotti v. Baird, where it
invalidated a statute requiring children to obtain parental consent before obtaining an abortion.95
This holding closely resembles that from Danforth, but in this case the Court also held that if a
minor is mature then the court must authorize her to act absent parental consent—a notable nod
toward choice theory.96 Though these cases expressly mention privacy, some scholars argue that
they are actually grappling with the issue of autonomy.97 Children’s right to privacy in these
situations was not totally unlimited; while the Court invalidated measures requiring parental
consent, it did not invalidate statutes requiring parental notification.
There are some complications with recognizing children’s rights as individuals, especially
when those rights pit the rights of family members against each other because the law has a
longstanding tradition of bundling familial privacy rights together.98 Parents’ rights often come
into conflict with theories of autonomous development of children. Courts differentiating on these
cases tend to cite very different rationales—reflecting whether they find a fundamental right in a
child’s autonomy, and whether they have strong commitments to the rights of parents. For
example, in H.L. v. Matheson, the Court addressed a Utah statute requiring parental notification in
advance of an abortion for a minor.99 It held that “parents have an important ‘guiding role’ to play
in the upbringing of their children [citation], which presumptively includes counseling them on
important decisions.”100 While that rationale seems to reflect an approach that heavily values the
best interest of the child, it is framed in such a way that it values the right of parents to counsel
their children, rather than the right of children to receive counsel from their parents (notably in this
case, the children did not want the counsel of their parents).101 The Court held that the parents’
91 Shmulei & Blecher-Prigat, supra note 2, at 772.
92 G.A. Res. 44/25, Convention on the Rights of the Child, at art. 16 (Nov. 20, 1989).
93 Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri, v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52, 74 (1976).
94 Carey v. Population Serv. Int’l, 431 U.S. 678, 693 (1977).
95 Belotti, 443 U.S. at 647.
98 Id. at 773–74 (“[R]ecognizing the rights (in general, not just the right to privacy) of individual family members
against each other does not seem to fully fit the family setting, where family members are believed to share some
sense of collectivity . . . .”).
101 Id. at 411 (discussing the benefits of parent’s counseling to the minor: “the statute serves a significant state interest
by providing an opportunity for parents to supply essential medical and other information to a physician. The medical,