Medical decision-making on behalf of young children: Is it time to move to a significant harm threshold? [ONLINE]
Thursday 26th of May 2022 18:15Add event to my calendar
LocationOnline via Zoom (joining link will be circulated via email)
ONLINE ticket holders:
18:15 - 19:15
(Zoom Meeting ‘room’ will be open from 18:00) Please ensure that you have joined before the event is due to start.
This event is expected to end at approximately 19:15 for those with an Online Ticket.
Dress codeSmart Casual
This talk will be led by Dr Cressida Auckland
In recent years, a series of high-profile disputes between the parents of very ill children and their child's medical practitioners have made their way through the courts. In such cases – which include among them that of Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans, Tafida Raqeeb and Alta Fixsler -- all parties believe that the course of action they favour is what is best for the child, yet those parties cannot reach agreement. The question thus arises, of who should have the ultimate say over a child's medical treatment?
The courts have made it clear that they have the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of children and affirmed the orthodox position that the threshold for judicial intervention is the welfare of the child, often referred to as the “best interests” approach. In this talk, I will evaluate that position, exploring whether the current threshold for judicial intervention is too low. This question – which is the subject of a current Bill before Parliament -- raises deeper questions about the relationship between the state and its citizens, and the legitimate boundaries for state interference in family and private life.
It will be argued that many decisions in which such disputes arise are not solely medical decisions, but value decisions. Where the decision about a child rests on these value-judgements, and where there is space for reasonable disagreement, there are good reasons to think that parents, due to their particular relationship to the child, should have the final say over a child's care, unless there is a sufficient reason for them to be overridden. After all, taking respect for difference seriously means being committed to promoting a plurality of values, even (perhaps especially) where you find them disagreeable. Given this, it will be suggested that the authority of parents to take medical decisions should yield only where the parents’ decision carries a “serious risk of significant harm” to the child, at which point the court then has the authority to intervene.
Dr Cressida Auckland is an Assistant Professor in Medical Law at the London School of Economics, and an Academic Fellow of Middle Temple. Her research focuses in particular on issues relating to capacity, consent and end-of-life decision-making.
Who can Attend
This event is for members only.
Qualifying Session Details
After this session, students should be able to:
- Understand what the legal position is in respect of medical decision-making for young children, including an overview of the recent case law on this issue.
- Identify and evaluate some core arguments for and against raising the threshold for judicial intervention in parental decisions.
- Recognise some of the wider constitutional questions that this issue raises.
- Appraise whether the current law is in need of reform, or not.
Links to the Professional Statement, wider workings of the Bar, administration of justice or a public interest matter
The QS will align with these elements of the professional statement:
- 1.2 / 1.3
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Bookings and Cancellations
Bookings will open at 10:00 AM on Wednesday 06 April 2022.
Members of the Inn can buy tickets online by clicking ‘Add to Cart’. Please note that you must log in to book (if you have not yet created a log-in please register first). Alternatively you can buy tickets from the Treasury Office by calling 020 7427 4800.
Unless the event sells out earlier, booking will close at 16:00 the day before the event.
Where we have a waiting list we will offer your ticket to someone else, so please do cancel your ticket if you are no longer able to attend by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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