Publication Date

2011

Abstract

Doctors sometimes struggle with ethically challenging requests for treatment from children’s parents. For instance, we have recently had two requests by parents of children, a girl and a boy, each with a severe developmental disability, for hormonal therapy to suppress growth and puberty: the girl’s parents requested, in addition, hysterectomy and mastectomy. We propose a reliable approach to assessing the ethical and legal aspects of these and other requests for ‘non-therapeutic’ treatment of a minor who lacks the capacity to give informed consent. We argue that a doctor should first assess whether the request is one that he or she can, in conscience, accede to, and then, if it is, seek the authorisation of a court. We outline considerations relevant to the doctor’s assessment of both the ethical issues and to the need for court authorisation.

Document Type

Journal Article

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