How Far Do Parental Rights Extend?

Essay by momNschool November 2009

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Less that XXIV hours after my daughter was born, her doctor had her taken to the NICU. My daughter had amniotic fluid in her lungs and was breathing rapidly. When she ate the milk went into her lungs rather than her stomach. The NICU staff had to put several IVs into her and had to hook her up to a feeding tube. I wanted the NICU staff to do whatever it took to make my daughter well even though it meant that my daughter would experience pain and discomfort for a few days. Seeing my daughter in pain was hard for me but, I knew that she would be better by the time she was out of the NICU. Though my daughter was not facing immediate danger or death if she had not been treated she would have lost weight and died. Parents face these kinds of decisions every day.

Parents have the responsibility to make the best decisions for their children. However, there are many reasons why parents may choose to make a decision that could have a negative effect of the child’s life. When a parent’s refusal of medical treatment threatens the life of the child, the law is required to step in and fight for the best interest of the child.

There are many reasons why parents may refuse medical treatment for their children. Some of these reasons include cultural customs and the lifestyle of the family. One such example is the story of “Baby Pam [who] was born at 23 weeks gestational age while her parents were in the United States on educational visas.” (Duhon, 2008, p. 15). Due to her premature birth Pam was experiencing many complications which meant that Pam’s doctors needed to do more complicated procedures. However, due to a past...