Parental refusals of medical treatment: The harm principle as threshold for state intervention

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (4):243-264 (2004)
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Abstract

Minors are generally considered incompetent to provide legally binding decisions regarding their health care, and parents or guardians are empowered to make those decisions on their behalf. Parental authority is not absolute, however, and when a parent acts contrary to the best interests of a child, the state may intervene. The best interests standard is the threshold most frequently employed in challenging a parent''s refusal to provide consent for a child''s medical care. In this paper, I will argue that the best interest standard provides insufficient guidance for decision-making regarding children and does not reflect the actual standard used by medical providers and courts. Rather, I will suggest that the Harm Principle provides a more appropriate threshold for state intervention than the Best Interest standard. Finally, I will suggest a series of criteria that can be used in deciding whether the state should intervene in a parent''s decision to refuse medical care on behalf of a child.

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References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Deciding for Others: The Ethics of Surrogate Decision Making.Allen E. Buchanan & Dan W. Brock - 1989 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Dan W. Brock.
On liberty.John Stuart Mill - 1956 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press. pp. 519-522.
On Liberty.John Stuart Mill - 1956 - Broadview Press.

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