Lawyers are uniquely suited to help improve the health of today's children. Many would argue that health insurance and ethics are the dominant concern in the health of America's youth. The best legal support for children is to help allow the child to participate in their own health care. Helping allow a child to make decisions that effect their own care is not yet codified but is becoming morally imperative in more and more cases even though the legal right to make these decisions is still in the hands of parents. By partnering with health care providers, lawyers can both advocate on behalf of their clients and save the lives of sick children.
[...] Good doctors know how much of health is not directly related to the biological issues and children have absolutely no way of addressing their own legal needs. Without help, they are powerless. Attorneys have the power to fix the mess. They understand how to make decisions when faced with difficult choices and how to advocate for their clients. To argue and persuade for positive change is the most important future legal concern in contemporary healthcare for children and any lawyer would be better for pursuing it. [...]
[...] Helping a child understand their health and the effect of their decisions is even more important in impoverished or low income families and it is only fair to know a child's opinion on their own care (Committee on Bioethics, 1995). The ways that this is done are important (Kunin, 1997) and there are naturally cases where a lawyer is much less qualified to recommend treatment options than a physician, but a physician is more likely to err when it comes to negotiating or mediating or even litigating agreements, especially if the child does not have final say in their care but is only a voice in a group of many and the child, because of health, because of age, or even because of poor decision-making, does not have the final say. [...]
[...] This is not to say that their legal protections are any different than adults in substantial ways because it is the position of this paper that, aside from the truly obvious concerns such as guardianship or certain rights that are restricted on ethical grounds, the trend is toward providing children with more information and it is an established fact that information that a doctor gives a child about their illness or ways to treat it are crucial to the overall well-being of a patient who is a child (Rushforth, 1999). [...]
[...] Thus, this is not a discussion of the need or even righteousness of justice, it is more an exploration of contemporary legal issues in caring for the health of children, not strategies for improving the health of children or for ending the injustices or potential injustices that are being done or will be done to children. Ensuring health laws as they currently stand are enforced is also worth studying, but not here. The contemporary health issues that combine children and the law are the ones that point the way to new trends and new developments. [...]
[...] The Hastings Center Report, 37(1) Retrieved October from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5020150728 Kunin, H. (1997). Ethical issues in pediatric life-threatening illness: Dilemmas of consent, assent, and communication. Ethics and Behavior 43-57. Melton, G. B. (1999). Parents and children: Legal reform to facilitate children's participation. American Psychologist 935-944. Roberts, M. C., Alexander, K., & Davis, N. J. (1991). Children's Rights [...]
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