2 Quinnipiac Health L. J. 73 (1998-1999)
On Statutes Depriving a Class of Children of Rights to Medical Care: Can This Discrimination be Litigated

handle is hein.journals/qhlj2 and id is 79 raw text is: On Statutes Depriving a Class of Children of
Rights to Medical Care: Can this
Discrimination be Litigated?
by Rita Swan, Ph.D.t
L Introduction
The rights of children have seldom been litigated in the
United States. The very concept of children having rights is
threatening to many Americans. At present, 191 nations have
ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child. The United States and Somalia are the only nations that
have not ratified the Convention.' The U. S. has well-organized,
vocal opponents who charge that the treaty threatens family
structure and parental rights.2
More than eighty nations specifically mention rights of chil-
dren in their constitutions, but not the U. S. The National Task
Force on Children's Constitutional Rights and several other or-
ganizations advocate an amendment to the U. S. Constitution
giving  children   due process and      protective rights.3    The
amendment has not, however, been introduced in Congress.
U. S. laws fail children in another respect as well. They in-
clude hundreds of religious exemptions that deprive a class of
children of medical care. This paper will discuss the harm done
by religious exemption statutes and the importance of giving
children rights to medical care without exception for religious
f Rita Swan, Ph.D., President, Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty; Member of
Adjunct Faculty, Morningside College.
I U.S. Co TirrrE FOR UNICEF, U.N. CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD:
FREQuENTLY ASKED QUESrIONS (1997).
2 S. Kilbourne, U.S. Failure to Ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Playing
Politics with Children's Rights, 6 TRANSNAT'L L. & CoNrEMP. PROBS. 437 (1996).
3 The text of the proposed constitutional amendment is as follows: The rights of
persons under the age of 18 shall include all the due process and protective rights
possessed by those over the age of 18 years. Such rights may be limited only upon
demonstration of a compelling state interest, and any such limitation shall be accom-
plished by the least intrusive means. Nothing herein shall be construed to diminish any
rights of persons under the age of 18 years, nor to preclude the enhancement of the
rights of such persons. Letter from C. Gill, to American Academy of Pediatrics (Oct.
20, 1997) (on file with author).

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