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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the law’s response to conflicts between parents and medical professionals over medical treatment of children. It acknowledges that generally the law gives parents considerable leeway over how to raise children and will only allow intervention in cases where the parents cannot reach agreement over an issue or the parents are causing the child significant harm. The chapter explores why medical treatment might be seen as different from other issues concerning children—in particular because there are authoritative alternative decision-makers (doctors) who can claim to have greater expertise than parents. However, it is claimed that end-of-life cases tend to raise issues that are not solely medical and hence a dialogue between doctors and parents is essential to determine the child’s best interests.

Keywords: medical treatment, consent, parental authority, Charlie Gard, terminal illness, child welfare

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