How Far Do Parental Rights Extend?

3021 words - 12 pages

Less that XXIV hours after my daughter was born, her doctor had her taken to the NICU. My daughter had amniotic fluid in her lungs and was breathing rapidly. When she ate the milk went into her lungs rather than her stomach. The NICU staff had to put several IVs into her and had to hook her up to a feeding tube. I wanted the NICU staff to do whatever it took to make my daughter well even though it meant that my daughter would experience pain and discomfort for a few days. Seeing my daughter in pain was hard for me but, I knew that she would be better by the time she was out of the NICU. Though my daughter was not facing immediate danger or death if she had not been treated she would have lost weight and died. Parents face these kinds of decisions every day. Parents have the responsibility to make the best decisions for their children. However, there are many reasons why parents may choose to make a decision that could have a negative effect of the child’s life. When a parent’s refusal of medical treatment threatens the life of the child, the law is required to step in and fight for the best interest of the child.There are many reasons why parents may refuse medical treatment for their children. Some of these reasons include cultural customs and the lifestyle of the family. One such example is the story of “Baby Pam [who] was born at 23 weeks gestational age while her parents were in the United States on educational visas.” (Duhon, 2008, p. 15). Due to her premature birth Pam was experiencing many complications which meant that Pam’s doctors needed to do more complicated procedures. However, due to a past accident “the medical team asks an anesthesiologist to change the tube in an operating room with a surgeon standing by to perform a tracheotomy if Pam’s airway becomes inaccessible during the procedure” (Duhon, 2008, p. 15). Pam’s parents refuse to consent to a tracheotomy because it would make Pam an outcast in their home country but the doctors believe that they are providing poor treatment to Pam. They cannot go through with the transplant or changing her end tracheal tube unless they have a plan to deal with Pam’s respiration. Pam’s parents love her and are making the decisions that they feel are best for Pam but their decisions may end up costing Pam her life. Rather than giving their consent for the necessary procedure to save Pam’s life they are more concerned that if Pam lives she will be socially rejected in their country. Their decisions are based on if Pam lives rather than trying everything to ensure that she does live. Every culture has its own set of taboos. When these taboos interfere with necessary medical treatment the parents are faced with a decision to choose between the child’s lifestyle and the child’s life. When decisions like these occur are parents able to make the decision that is best for the child? When can the law step in and protect the child? When...

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