Journal Article

BETWEEN AUTONOMY AND DEPENDENCY: MINORS' RIGHTS TO DECIDE ON MATTERS OF SEXUALITY, REPRODUCTION, MARRIAGE, AND PARENTHOOD. PROBLEMS AND THE STATE OF DEBATE – AN INTRODUCTION

Kirsten Scheiwe

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 18, issue 3, pages 262-282
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/18.3.262
BETWEEN AUTONOMY AND DEPENDENCY: MINORS' RIGHTS TO DECIDE ON MATTERS OF SEXUALITY, REPRODUCTION, MARRIAGE, AND PARENTHOOD. PROBLEMS AND THE STATE OF DEBATE – AN INTRODUCTION

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Between autonomy and dependency – this characterizes the factual and legal position of minors. Their rights to decide on matters of sexuality, reproduction, partnership, marriage, and parenthood are limited by parental rights, but also affected by State regulation of social rights, services and education, and by criminal law. A broad approach is taken to investigate this range of issues from social and legal perspectives. This introductory contribution outlines different strands of debate, starting with the ‘facts’ about early motherhood and the basic question of ‘what's the problem – if young women do today what decades ago was considered to be quite normal?’ Potential detrimental effects linked to it (poverty risks, educational and income disadvantages) are reviewed, and the problem of ‘correlation or causes?’ as well as the question of choice are touched upon. Further, the rights of young persons to decide on their sexual behaviour and reproductive activities are outlined. Abortion rights of minors are discussed (Must their parents know and be informed? Is parental consent needed? What about minors' privacy rights?), and legal questions around the issue of sex education as a controversial subject are investigated. Also discussed are the social rights of minors such as access to information, counselling services, contraceptives and health services as well as the position of underage parents under civil law. And last but not least, what about social constructions of motherhood, fatherhood, and the gender dimension of these rules?

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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