by Stephanie Curry
If your child has a terminal illness and stops breathing in a hospital, should a doctor have the right to refuse to administer CPR against the parents’ wishes? We believe the answer to this is a resounding No. It is parents who love their children who shoulder the overriding responsibility of guarding their child’s health and very life. As we discussed in Part II of this series, hospitals should work in partnership with families to fight for the life of a child, no matter their prognosis.
When life and death decisions regarding your child’s health are at stake, it seems obvious parents should be involved. But, should your child be able to make decisions about their own care that are far more routine? Consider a simple physical for school, an appointment for glasses, or receiving antibiotics for a sinus infection. Should your 15-year-old be able to make an appointment and get treatment for these things without your consent? Without your knowledge? For legislatures, the answer to these questions are becoming more ambiguous.
Over the past several years, states have begun muddying the waters as to how involved a parent should be in their child’s health care decisions. Most states allow children to receive contraceptives or treatment for substance abuse at ages far younger than 18, without their parents even knowing their child is being treated. In Wisconsin, a child of 12 can receive treatment for a drug addiction. In Oregon, all children 15 and older can consent to medical treatment — from physicals to abortions. In Alabama, the age of consent is 14, and in Idaho, any age child who comprehends the risks of treatment can consent to their own medical care.
While Family Policy Alliance recognizes there are situations in which parental involvement may not be desirable, we believe most parents are in the best position to know and support their child’s healthcare journey and aid in their child’s medical care long-term. We believe healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Family, not government, is an integral part of a child’s journey to health and healing. In that vein, Family Policy Alliance will continue to fight alongside parents who want to be free to love and protect their children the way they know best.
This is part 3 of 5 in our Let Parents Parent series on the importance of protecting parental rights for families.