It is an ongoing and complex debate about which nothing conviction can be said with absolute certainty that whether it is the prerogative right of a child or a minor to consent to or refuse to standard medical treatment or is it the prerogative right or responsibility of the parents or the government to make the decision regarding medical treatment of a child or the minor.
What can be done on the other hand is good arguments to be made and discussed. There are quite a few things about the issue at hand which should be considered i.e. what is the specific age above which a person should be considered a consenting adult? What are the intelligence or mental characteristics which should be possessed by a person to be considered a consenting adult? What is the jurisdiction of parents in this regard or what is the jurisdiction of government in this regard? What are the limits, if there are any, within which parents can intervene to the medical decisions concerning their children or what are the criteria’s in which government can intervene to save the life on an individual?
Answering to all these questions is what is required to settle this debate. It is the right of an able, mindful and sensible individual to be in control of his or her own life. It is the prerogative right of an individual to consent to matters relating to his or her own life whether they be medical decisions or any other decisions of life. So where does the complication lie?
The complication arises when we debate whether an individual is capable of making sound and difficult decisions concerning his or her life or does the individual possess the mental faculties to be able to make those kind of decisions. If the individual is tested and found to possess the mental faculties required to make decisions concerning one’s life or if the individual is found to possess a certain age limit as set by legislation, than the person has the right to be able to make all the decisions related to the life of the individual.
On the other hand if the person fails to meet the defined requirements to be able to make the required decision or fails to meet the age requirements as defined by the government legislation than the individual doesn’t possess the right to be able to make the decisions related to the matters deciding the life and death of the individual. In such case it should be up to the government or the parents to take over the decision making and it should be their responsibility to make sure that saving the life of the individual is made an absolute priority.
Additionally it is also about the nature of the decision. If the decision affects the life of the individual, than in this case it is up to the government to make sure that the most rational decision is taken and saving the life of the individual is made priority.
Gillick Competency and Fraser Guidelines is an Australian legislation concerning the matter at hand in which passing a mental competency test is made compulsory for an individual to be able to consent or refuse to medical treatment. Its recommendations should be paid heed too as well. In other cases an age limit of 16 years is set as a standard to be able to consent to or refuse to medical treatment.