Washington Law Review


Elisabeth Frost


The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a right of privacy that protects against unwarranted governmental interference with an individual's contraceptive choices. This privacy right protects minors as well as adults. School officials serve as government actors for the purpose of Fourteenth Amendment analysis. Zero tolerance drug policies are school disciplinary policies that mandate predetermined and frequently severe consequences for specific offenses, often including the possession of legally prescribed or legally obtained over-the-counter medication. Zero tolerance drug policies have resulted in the often very public discipline of students for possessing a wide array of otherwise legal medication, including birth control pills, without parental permission. This Comment argues that schools may not enforce their discipline policies in ways that violate a minor's right of privacy with regard to contraceptive choices. Zero tolerance policies as applied to minors in possession of legally obtained contraceptives must not force students to notify their parents of their procreative choices in order to comply with the policy. At a minimum, such policies must include a bypass option that enables students to avoid acquiring parental consent in order for those students to possess contraceptives at school. In addition, zero tolerance policies may not violate a minor's constitutional right to be free from state dissemination of their private affairs-a natural consequence of disciplining students in possession of contraceptives in violation of the zero tolerance policy.

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