Whose Belief Is It Anyway? Children, Their Body’s and the Beliefs That Influence Parental Decision-Making in Healthcare

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to discuss the ethical and legal relationship between the religious, social and cultural beliefs held by parents and the health of their children, in establishing a younger child’s best interests. I will argue that the law’s primary responsibility to the welfare of children is to protect the child from physical harm. Fundamental to my argument is disagreement with the idea that failing to take parental beliefs into account is contrary to a child’s best interests, when physical harm will occur. This will be demonstrated through legal and ethical analysis of two aspects of children’s health that may be influenced by parental beliefs. These are, the refusal of treatment or intervention using the examples of blood transfusion and immunisation, and the provision of unnecessary medical intervention in the form of infant non-therapeutic male circumcision. I argue that the actual or potential physical harm resulting from these issues is contrary to the rights afforded to children. Furthermore, that the law should be consistent in its approach to considering protection from physical harm as being in the best interests of children. Specifically, I will argue that society has a moral obligation towards immunisation and that it should be a legally enforced specific parental responsibility. Furthermore, that non-therapeutic male circumcision should be morally considered as being of a similar genital mutilation as that of female circumcision, with emphasis on the moral right to genital autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2016
EventOn Everyday Ethics Conference - Royal College of Nursing, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 May 2016 → …

Conference

ConferenceOn Everyday Ethics Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period10/05/16 → …

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