The Child’s Autonomy in Decision-making on Medical Treatment: Theoretical Considerations
Keywords:Child’s informed consent to medical intervention, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, right to health, right to be heard, child’s evolving capacities, competence
The article examines the theoretical and normative context of a child’s autonomous decision making in health care. Neither the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child nor the general comments of the Committee on the Rights of the Child state criteria for regarding a child to be competent for such decision-making. The key issue in the debate over children’s informed consent to medical interventions is that of competence. The author analyses competence through the lens of Archard’s division of rational autonomy into rationality, maturity, and independence. These three elements could guide health-care practitioners who need to assess the capacity of a child to consent.