The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 22, Issue 4, Winter 2022

Michele Chetham
Pages 641-654

Ethical Medical Decision-Making for a Child

Ethical medical decision-making for a child is generally navigated with various standards and models that have been developed to address its complexities. A case is presented of the parents’ refusal of a surgical procedure for their child considered by medical providers as essential and potentially lifesaving, along with the ethical debate of whether the parents’ decision was in the child’s best interest and whether their refusal reached a threshold to report and seek state intervention. Utilizing the best interest standard and additional ethical decision-making tools, the ethicists helped the medical team accept the parents’ decision as reasonable, thus avoiding involvement with Child Protective Services. It is my goal to clarify the parents’ decision as reasonable and as honoring their child’s best interests and inherent dignity through the lens of Catholic anthropological and moral principles. These strengthen the ethical and moral arguments for the parents’ decision and the opposition to state intervention.

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