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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

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation's top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research.

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