Personal Views

Children have rights too

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7091.1421a (Published 10 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1421
  1. Rachel Bulford
  1. works for Article 12, an organisation run by children and young people–8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE (tel 0171 843 6026) 0171 843 6026)

    I recently had the misfortune to be a hospital outpatient after breaking my leg. My experience made me think about the powers that I have over my own treatment.

    There are three main issues in the debate surrounding the young person's right to a say in health care. The first of these is the actual right to a say. This was covered in the Gillick ruling. When they are considered mature enough by their doctor young people can decide on treatment with or without the consent of their parents. The problem is that the maturity of the child has to be decided by the doctors. Some young people would be deemed mature enough to take a decision about their own bodies, whereas others, seen by different doctors, would not.

    The process of taking your own decision and being treated like a decent human being relies not only on the permission of the doctors but also on the giving of information necessary to make an informed choice. This is …

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