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Legal issues in child health

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  1. Abstract.
  2. Introduction.
  3. Explanations and justifications.
  4. What do children need and want?
  5. How assent should work.
  6. Conclusion.

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. [...]

[...] A clinical setting in and of itself can be hazardous for a child and adding the presence of counsel can certainly create a barrier to a child's health or well-being. The ethics of contemporary legal issues in healthcare, unlike the discussion on how the actual rights of children are unlikely to change overnight, are in flux. To represent an embryo or a child cloned to repair a sibling are nowhere near as science fiction far-fetched as they once would have sounded. [...]

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