American Journal of Bioethics.

Reasons to Amplify the Role of Parental Permission in Pediatric Treatment

Two new documents from the Committee on Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) expand the terrain for parental decision making, suggesting that pediatricians may override only those parental requests that cross a harm threshold. These new documents introduce a broader set of considerations in favor of parental authority in pediatric care than previous AAP documents have embraced. While we find this to be a positive move, we argue that the 2016 AAP positions actually understate the importance of informed and voluntary parental involvement in pediatric decision making. This article provides a more expansive account of the value of parental permission. In particular, we suggest that an expansive role for parental permission may (1) reveal facts and values relevant to their child’s treatment, (2) encourage resistance to suboptimal default practices, (3) improve adherence to treatment, (4) nurture children’s autonomy, and (5) promote the interests of other family members.

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Volume 17, Issue 11
November 2017