B. Jessie Hill


Children have a constitutional right to bodily integrity. Courts do not hesitate to vindicate that right when children are abused by state actors. Moreover, in at least some cases, a child’s right to bodily integrity applies within the family, giving the child the right to avoid unwanted physical intrusions regardless of the parents’ wishes. Nonetheless, the scope of this right vis-à-vis the parents is unclear; the extent to which it applies beyond the narrow context of abortion and contraception has been almost entirely unexplored and untheorized. This Article is the first in the legal literature to analyze the constitutional right of minors to bodily integrity within the family by spanning traditionally disparate doctrinal categories such as abortion rights; corporal punishment; medical decisionmaking; and nontherapeutic physical interventions such as tattooing, piercing, and circumcision. However, the constitutional right of minors to bodily integrity raises complex philosophical questions concerning the proper relationship between family and state, as well as difficult doctrinal and theoretical issues concerning the ever-murky idea of state action. This Article canvasses those issues with the ultimate goal of delineating a constitutional right of bodily security and autonomy for children.

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