Isaacs, D., Tobin, B., Hamblin, J., Slaytor, E., Donaghue, K.C., Munns, C., & Kilham, H. (2011). Managing ethically questionable parental requests : Growth suppression and manipulation of puberty. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (print version), 47(9), 581-584.
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.
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