The Issue Of The Medical Treatment

1549 Words7 Pages
Imagine a scenario in which a competent parent would refuse medical care for their child. At first glance, it may sound preposterous. However, what if the medical treatment is hazardous? What if the child is begging for an alternative treatment? Due to the pain the current treatment is causing him or her. The United States of America greatly prides itself on its “rights-based” legal culture. However, it also prides itself on protecting the rights of its citizens. If a parent refuses medical treatment for his or her child, the state could interfere and take that child away, on the basis of child neglect and abuse. The child would then be forced to continue treatment, despite any fears of apprehensions from the child’s parent. This is precisely the struggle that occurred when the Whittaker parents refused chemotherapy treatment for their daughter, Sarah. The central issue of this controversy comes from a struggle between parents’ autonomy in caring for their child, contrasted with the state’s interest in protecting the child they believe is at risk, state paternalism. The ethical dilemma is whether the state may order medical treatment against the parents’ autonomy. Between 2007 and 2011 more than 350,000 children and their parents had their legal relationships severed through a termination of parental rights proceedings based either on a parent not participating in services or on a lack of change in parental behavior (Halloran, p. 53, 59-60). Furthermore, “in 2010 it was
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