‘My child, my choice’: parents, doctors and the ethical standards for resolving their disagreement

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Dave Archard


best interests, harm, threshold, trigger, proprietarian, parental discretion, interests, value uncertainty


Disagreements between doctors and parents as to the appropriate treatment of a child have been exacerbated by a number of recent developments, especially the use of the internet. In normative terms there has been a popular assertion of a parent’s right to choose the treatment of his or her child and this has been defended in the bioethics literature, often in the context of a preference for a harm over a best interests principle for adjudicating these differences. This article affirms the centrality of a best interest standard and criticises arguments for giving parental views a certain moral weight based upon the view that parents know best, or on the interests of the parents, or as consistent with the use of child protection principles, or in value uncertainty.

Abstract 687 | NILQ 70.1.6 Archard Downloads 510