contraception for a minor but many permit the physician to breach confidentiality and inform the
parent of the prescription.34
Despite the numerous rulings on youth reproductive health, the standard for measuring
youth competency remains unclear. It is not uncommon for courts to find children competent to
have access to contraceptive advice and abortions, but when children refuse life-saving treatment,
their competency has been routinely denied—even when the child in question is wholly aware of
the consequences of their decision.35 In In re E.G., a seventeen-year-old girl developed leukemia
and needed blood transfusions as part of her medical treatment.36 Both E.G. and her mother refused
to consent to the transfusions on the basis of their shared religious beliefs, resulting in the State
filing a neglect petition.37 In the trial court’s order, a temporary guardian was appointed for E.G.
who, acting on E.G.’s behalf, would consent to the transfusions.38 Additional hearings regarding
this matter took place and E.G. testified in court that her refusal to consent to blood transfusions
was her own decision and that she understood her diagnosis and the consequences of her refusal.39
She also testified that the court’s decision, which led to her being forced to undergo the
transfusions, greatly upset her – she said, “[I]t seems as if everything that I wanted or believe in
was just being disregarded.” The trial court stated in their decision that they found E.G. to be a
“‘mature 17-year-old individual,’ that E.G. reached her decision on an independent basis, and that
she was ‘fully aware that death [was] assured absent treatment.’”40 Despite this, the court held that
the State’s interest in valuing sanctity of life and exercising its parens patriae power to protect
those unable to care for themselves was greater than E.G. and her mother’s interests, though great
weight was given to the wishes of E.G. because of her maturity and religious beliefs.41
Studies show that the standards applied to youth actually contradict research on the subject.
To illustrate, some states require parental notification or parental consent, but this notification or
consent fails to promote health precautions in prevention of unwanted pregnancies or unwanted
diseases in youth.42 Nearly sixty percent of participants in a 2002 Planned Parenthood study said
they would stop using healthcare services if parental consent was required, but 99% of these
participants said they would continue having sex.43 Empirical evidence should be weighed when
determining policies or laws to help ensure laws are created that actually work toward their
III. GENDER DYSPHORIA
unanimous decision, the Court held that invalidation of the entire statute was unnecessary and lower courts may issue
an injunction and declaratory judgment only prohibiting the statute’s unconstitutional application. Id. at 331.
34 Paul Arshagouni, “But I’m an Adult Now…Sort Of”: Adolescent Consent in Health Care Decision-Making and the
Adolescent Brain, 9 J. HEALTH CARE L. POL’Y 315, 325 (2006).
35 Tobin, supra note 14, at 600.
36 In re E.G., a Minor, 549 N.E.2d 322, 323 (1990).
43 Id.; see also Melissa Weddle & Patricia K. Kokotailo, Confidentiality and Consent in Adolescent Substance Abuse:
An Update, 7 VIRTUAL MENTOR ETHICS J. OF THE AM. MED. ASS’N, 2005, http://journalofethics.ama-
assn.org/2005/03/pdf/pfor1-0503.pdf (“When adolescents perceive that health care services are not confidential, they
report that they are less likely to seek care, particularly for reproductive health matters or substance abuse.”).