chapter  14
18 Pages

Time for Competent Minors to Have the Same Right of Self- Determination as Competent Adults with Respect to Medical Intervention?

ByAusten Garwood-Gowers

Lord Scarman in Sidaway v Bethlem Royal and Maudsley Hospital Governors [1985] AC 871 suggested that: ‘The existence of the patient’s right to make his own decision…may be seen as a basic human right protected by common law.’1 Common law jurisdictions as a whole have long recognised that this right of self-determination is, as a general rule,2 inviolable but often only for competent adults. For example, Cardozo J in Schloendorff v Society of New York Hospital 211 NY 125 (1914) states that:

Few would argue with the right of self-determination being denied on paternalistic grounds where a patient is incompetent but what grounds for denying the competent minor the general right?