New Book: Medical Decision Making on Behalf of Young Children: A Comparative Perspective

Decision making on behalf of young children - book cover
Few legal cases have generated such heated and divisive public debates as those involving Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans. Figures from the Pope to President Donald Trump provided their two cents worth, and more.  It is easy to see why.  The cases concerned tragic situations concerning very sick children and at their core was a debate over who got to decide what treatment, if any they received: the courts, the parents, the doctors, or public opinion? They touch upon fundamental questions about the extent to which the state may encroach into what many consider deeply personal, private decisions.

A new collection edited by Imogen Goold, Jonathan Herring and Cressida Auckland, Medical Decision Making on Behalf of Young Children: A Comparative Perspective, opens a wide-ranging international conversation exploring how countries around the world deal with these cases. The book draws on insights from Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe to compare how in various parts of the world the rights and interests of the child, professionals and the community are balanced.  Striking differences in approach are identified, but they are placed in the context of the differing social and cultural values. Drawing on commentators approach the issues from law, medical ethics and medicine, this collection also offers valuable insights into how the United Kingdom, as a multicultural, pluralistic society, can navigate the challenges these cases pose.

This book acts as a companion to the editors’ 2018 collection, Parental Rights, Best Interests and Significant Harms: Medical Decision-Making on Behalf of Children Post-Great Ormond Street Hospital v Gard, which focussed on the position in England and Wales but drew on a wide range of disciplines and viewpoints, providing the reader with a rich source of materials to think through these issues. Both are published by Hart Bloomsbury.