Culture & Ethics
For Bioethicists, This Is “Neglectful” Parenting
It’s one thing when adults decide to radically alter their bodies to accord with their identified gender. But when these body-altering interventions are performed on children — blocking normal puberty, mastectomies on 13-year-olds, etc. — that is a different kettle of fish.
“Treating” gender-dysphoric children via body-altering interventions should be deemed unethical because — among other concerns — children can’t decide these things maturely, we don’t know the long-term consequences to their health, we don’t know how such potentially permanent alterations will impact their wellbeing, and some gender-dysphoric children cease identifying as their non-biological sex as they reach adulthood. Alas, much of mainstream medicine supports such interventions, at least when parents consent.
But that isn’t enough for the lobbyists, who often treat resistance to their agenda as a moral panic in which all dissent must be crushed, even — perhaps especially — when parents seek to protect their gender-dysphoric children from having their normal body functions interfered with or altered medically.
Furthering the ongoing assault on parental rights in this area, an article just published in the Journal of Medical Ethics advocates treating a parent’s refusal to allow (what proponents call “gender affirming”) medical interventions as an egregious form of “neglect” that warrants calling in the authorities. From, “Medically Assisted Gender Affirmation: When Children and Parents Disagree”:
Healthcare professionals have a unique role as providers of gender-affirming therapies that improve quality of life, decrease depression and decrease high-risk behaviours. Neglect may be used in extreme cases, assuming psychosocial interventions have been diligently pursued, to provide paediatric patients with gender-affirming treatment.
Neglect, as defined by the AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, is ‘failure to heed obvious signs of serious illness or failure to follow a physician’s instructions once medical advice has been sought’. Factors contributing to this definition include direct harm to the child with refusal of treatment, net benefit to the child with treatment and baseline access to healthcare and medical advice that is not being used…
Healthcare professionals have a unique role as providers of gender-affirming therapies that improve quality of life, decrease depression and decrease high-risk behaviours. Neglect may be used in extreme cases, assuming psychosocial interventions have been diligently pursued, to provide paediatric patients with gender-affirming treatment…
Neglect, as defined by the AAP Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, is ‘failure to heed obvious signs of serious illness or failure to follow a physician’s instructions once medical advice has been sought’.
In other words, parents who refuse to allow their children’s normal puberty to be blocked should, at least in some cases, be treated as harshly as we do those who do not adequately nourish and clothe their kids, allow them to live in vermin-infested abodes, and refuse to educate them, as just a few examples.
No Parental Consent Needed
The doctor/bioethicists also want “mature” children to be allowed to make decisions without parental consent:
Another area of ethical exception to minors’ inability to consent is the mature minor doctrine. The doctrine states that adolescents deemed mature have the capacity to consent. Holder summarises the doctrine as follows: ‘If a young person understands the nature of proposed treatment and its risks, if the physician believes that the patient can give the same degree of informed consent as an adult patient, and if the treatment does not involve very serious risks, the young person may validly consent to receiving it’…
Despite the highly varied nature of legal support for the mature minor doctrine across state jurisdictions, as an ethical concept, it is highly relevant to gender-affirming therapy. In situations where gender-affirming treatment is deemed low risk and aligns with current guidelines, we believe the mature minor doctrine can be applied to adolescents…
Ultimately, allowing transgender minors to consent to gender-affirming treatment, that is, over-riding parental consent, should be sought only when all other avenues to try to bring caretakers around have failed or if approaching them poses a clear and present risk to the minor’s well-being.
Consider: Children — no matter how “mature” — cannot buy cigarettes or give consent to being tattooed, decisions that will have a far less short-term physical impact than “gender affirming” medical interventions. (On the other hand, in some states, they can obtain abortions without parental notification, so this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.)
Bottom line: To an increasing degree, the practice of medicine and bioethics are being harnessed to accelerate social-revolutionary policies. This article — and it is far from being on the fringe — is just one example.
Photo credit: Irina Murza via Unsplash.
Cross-posted at The Corner.