Key Ethics Term – Parental Rights

Adult patients have the moral and legal right to make decisions about their own medical care. Because young children are not able to make complex decisions for themselves, the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of a child usually falls to the child’s parents.

Parents and children have unique vulnerabilities and will often depend significantly on shared decision making processes, though the right to decide ultimately resides with the parents. There are legal exceptions by state that typically revolve around: (1) Child abuse & neglect, (2) sexual abuse, (3) abandonment, or other conditions that sufficiently impinge on the rights of the children.