Faculty Sponsor

Amanda Zelechoski


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


This brief will explore the legal topic of the mature minor doctrine, and developmental differences in decision making between adolescents and adults. In the state of Connecticut minor children under the age of 18 are unable to make their own medical decisions, such as consenting to lifesaving treatment or preventative care. In the case of the Supreme court of Connecticut versus 17-year-old Cassandra C., Cassandra was found medically incompetent to decide on her cancer treatment plan. To better inform the court, this brief will cover several research articles discussing the maturity and competence of adolescents in the medical decision-making process. The current literature suggests that adolescents have less developed decision-making processes compared to adults. Many states require parental consent for the medical treatment of mature minors, including Connecticut. While the mature minor doctrine is a legal agreement accepted by other U.S. states, stating matured unemancipated minors may make their own medical decisions without the consent of their parents. The current literature does support that there is a decision-making difference between adults and adolescents, yet through medical competency testing, a mature minor can come to a reasonable decision on his or her own treatment plan. In the case of Connecticut versus Cassandra C., a medical competency test could be used to determine her ability to decide upon her own treatment.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Katherine is an undergraduate psychology major and social work minor at Valparaiso University. In Fall of 2017, Katherine completed an internship at the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative, where she worked in a middle school classroom. Katherine currently works at an adolescent rehabilitation center where she complies with client treatment plans. Katherine will be graduating in December of 2018 and plans to attend graduate school to further her career working in school systems.