Mature Minor Case Study

1918 Words 8 Pages
How much autonomy should a minor have? Should their refusal of life-saving treatment be granted by physicians? These questions arise from the case of Emma Ogden, a twelve year old girl who lived with a congenital heart defect which led to many operations and repeated visits to the hospital. When Dr. Abdul Hamid, the transplant surgeon, told Emma and her parents that her best option would be getting a heart transplant and that even then, her prognosis was grim, she refused. Emma researched her condition and the possible outcomes of heart transplants significantly, and discussed it with her parents. Reluctantly, they came to agree with her as well, because they did not want their daughter to suffer anymore. When they informed the doctor that …show more content…
The regions of the brain that develop the latest in life are those that deal with decision making, rationalization, judgment, etc. This being said, one could argue that minors, no matter how mature they may seem, are not competent to make their decisions because their brain simply cannot handle that extent of rationality and serious thought. Others will go so far as to say that by ignoring the scientific data and maintaining this idea of a Mature Minor’s doctrine, we are endangering our children. (Cherry, 2013, 323-326). Being that the scientific data about the brains later development is true, it is hard to oppose this argument on a basis of science, but it is possible to oppose it on a basis of philosophy and ethics. John Stewart Mill believed that no one should interfere with another’s liberty, and that all people should be given the right to decide what happens to their body. By developing and establishing a formal Mature Minor’s doctrine, one would be complying with Mill’s utilitarianism regarding the subject of autonomy. If mature minors have the right to make their own decisions, no one would be interfering with their liberty, and they would be able to legally make their own decisions for their own bodies. One could also argue that utilitarianism focuses on maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain, but that by withholding treatment and letting Emma pass away, Dr. Hamid would be increasing the pain for her family and friends. Though her family and friends would mourn her death with grief and pain, there would have to be some element of comfort and contentment that they hold knowing that the decision to refuse the transplant, and thus pass away was benefitting her because she was no longer

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