Mother wins right to refuse treatment for her child

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 02 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1101

The Court of Appeal last week upheld a mother's refusal to allow her 18 month old son to undergo a lifesaving liver transplantation, although his prognosis is death within a year without it.

The mother, who lives abroad with the boy and his father, had appealed against a High Court judge's order forcing her to return home so that the boy could have the operation. The appeal court's ruling lays greater emphasis on parents' rights than in earlier cases where parents have refused treatment.

The courts have tended largely to follow medical opinion in such cases. But the judgment hinges mainly on the unusual facts of the case and will not open the way for Jehovah's Witness parents to refuse blood transfusions for their children.

The family's identity and the identities of the doctors and hospitals …

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