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Is a pregnant teenager an emancipated minor? What is the motherís status after the baby is born?

Monday September 24, 2007
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

Is a pregnant teenager an emancipated minor? What is the motherís status after the baby is born?

Rebecca

Answer:

Dear Rebecca,

The response to your question is based on several factors, all of which depend upon the laws/statutes in the state in which you work. For example, in many states, a pregnant minor is considered an emancipated minor for the purposes of providing informed consent for her own treatment and the treatment of the fetus during the pregnancy and childbirth. For this principle to apply, however, the minor pregnant mother cannot have a cognitive disability that prevents her from giving informed consent for or refusal of treatment. If, as an example, the pregnant minor mother had a guardian appointed to make such decisions, then the minor pregnant mother would not be able to provide consent for treatment for herself or the fetus.

Again, generally speaking, once the pregnant minor gives birth to the infant, the pregnant minor continues to provide informed consent for treatment for the infant but is often then unable (due to the state law) to provide consent for or refusal of treatment for herself unless another exception to the requirement of a parent or legal guardian giving consent for the minor exists. Two such exceptions might be if the minor is married or has been declared emancipated by a court in the state.

Checking the status of your stateís laws in this regard would be a good idea. In addition to your nurse manager, the risk management department of your facility can help answer these questions for you. Additionally, the facility policies on consent for treatment by minors and by pregnant minors should be of guidance as well.

Cordially,
Nancy