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Medical-Legal Implications of Neon Roberts Case Study - Essay Example

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The aim of this essay is to show the circumstance under which the High Court found Mrs. Roberts’s parental consent unnecessary in making the decision to give Neon a radiotherapy treatment. At times the state prevents the parents from making significant medical decisions regarding…
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Medical-Legal Implications of Neon Roberts Case Study
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Download file to see previous pages There are a number of exceptions to this ‘general rule’, which are outlined in statutory and common law to allow for treatment of minors in the best of their interest, as the case of Roberts (Tsai et al., 1993). According to Pattinson (2009), Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the rights of human beings, such that they are accorded social respect. As such, Mrs. Roberts and her son have social rights, which allow them to demand the respect of their family and private life (Birsan, 2010). However, the first paragraph of the convention declared these prerogatives in an absolute manner (Charrier, 2000). The second paragraph contains certain provisions under which the liberties and rights are subject to certain limitations. As Mason and McCall Smith (2006) provide, the High Court ordered Neon Roberts to undergo radiotherapy, which was against her mother’s wishes, because it was recognized that failing to do so would have compromised the health of the boy. Whereas there are some potential risks associated with radiotherapy including reduction in the patient’s IQ, tiredness, poor memory and loss of personality, among many others - in reaching its decision, the High Court tried to balance these risks against their potential benefits – and found that the benefits outweighed the risks, such that the parental consent would not have been required. When physicians request the courts to permit them to treat a child against the wishes of their parents, the law characteristically overrides parental opposition, provided there is enough evidence to show that doing so is in the interest of the child’s health (Veilleux, 2001). The decision by the court to allow the physicians to treat Neon in defiance of his mother’s objections interfered with his right to physical integrity and private life under Article 8 – that is, if Neon objected the treatment.2 However, as discussed, the interference of the court with that right had been done in accordance with the law.3 As Lowe and Juss (1993) provide, the fundamental question that was before the High Court was whether Mrs. Roberts had a legal right to refuse her son from being treated through radiotherapy, which was so essential considering his medical condition. However, the High Court also considered the obligations of the doctors, if the parent refused her son to undergo the treatment, and whether they should have sided with the decision of the parent or they were justified in seeking the court’s intervention. There are three sets of interests that come to play when seeking under what conditions a state may order medical treatment for a child contrary to the wishes of the parent. These include the responsibility of the state, the parent’s natural rights, and the personal needs (Brazier and Cave, 2007). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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