The idea of “the child” is constantly evolving, and children appear to be maturing more rapidly each year. As a response, laws pertaining to minors have had to keep up with these social changes. In the health care context, the competency of children is constantly scrutinized and challenged. Accordingly, reforms to past laws that deemed minors lacked decisional capacity have resulted in the “mature minor” doctrine. Although this doctrine allows minors a degree of independence in the decision-making process it maintains many grey areas. The age of consent is inconsistent across provinces and territories, and the guidelines used to assess competence are vague and sometimes arbitrary. With such inconsistency in the measuring of adolescent
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For the basis of my analysis I will use Dr. Kenneth De Ville’s analytical critique of society’s consensus of adult’s authority to make medical decisions for their minor children (De Ville 253). A present member of the Department of Public Health and a member of the Medical Humanities faculty in East Carolina University, De Ville focuses on medical ethics and regulation. Although his paper’s main focus is on adolescent parents and adult parents, his work still conveys, and challenges, many of my points in my critique of the consensus of adult competency.
There appears to be unanimity on the justification of adults’ rights to control medical decisions for their children (257). Although the competency granted to adults has a part in this approval of authority, this consensus is based largely on filial love (256, 265). The belief that a parents’ decision is made with their child’s best interest in mind is a supporting factor in distinguishing them as the presumptive decision makers (256, 265).
The notion of the child’s “best interest” is a reoccurring theme in the justification of adult authority over their offspring (257, 262). In the private sphere there is less scrutiny towards the everyday decisions made by parents in relation to their children’s well-being (257). Parents constantly make decisions that covertly have a