January 8, 2014—I want to cite a case in Connecticut which deals with personal liberty and parental responsibilities. There’s a story out now that a 17-year-old girl has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Had started on chemotherapy and then she decided she didn’t want it anymore.
The government came in and said, “You must take it.” The parents, the mother especially, has stuck with the daughter and said, “Look, if she doesn’t want it, she doesn’t have to take it.” This is a big issue.
Under this case, it’s interesting that if she were 18 she’d have more rights to make this decision. She’s 17. The law doesn’t permit her to make this decision, which is rather ironic because I’ve met some people who were 16 and they are very, very mature and adult, and I’ve met some people who were 20 and they’re not (and they need all the help they can get).
The question raises, when does the government have this authority to step in and how much parental control is there and how much does the individual have? Of course, the individual should be the ultimate decider about healthcare, but what about a 6 year old or a 4 year old. They are not adults. I would like to think a 17 year old is an adult. She surely could be interviewed and decided she is an adult…