Case Sparks Debate About Teen Decision Making in Health

Case Sparks Debate About Teen Decision Making in Health

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Only months before turning 18, a Connecticut girl has been told by her state's supreme court that she must undergo chemotherapy against her wishes in a case that has drawn national headlines and raised questions about what rights minors truly have over their bodies. Laws for minors' access to health care vary by state and typically involve mental health and substance abuse treatment or care for sexually transmitted infections. Some have pointed to a political double standard at play in Connecticut, noting that the state is one of a handful in which teens are allowed to seek abortions without parental consent, yet Cassandra is not allowed to refuse medical treatment for cancer. Supporters of the court's action in Cassandra's case say reproductive, substance abuse and mental health services are different from cancer treatment. "In both cases the law is designed to help the teenager.... They are not laws that recognize a teen's maturity," says Dr. Douglas S. Diekema, clinical director of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Research Institute.

About Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics, among others. As part of Seattle Children’s Hospital, the research institute brings together leading minds in pediatric research to provide patients with the best care possible. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best pediatric departments in the country. For more information, visit