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Weight for Children’s Views in Medical Law

Alderson, P; (2015) Weight for Children’s Views in Medical Law. In: Daly, A and Stalford, H, (eds.) Proceedings of Multidisciplinary Workshop: Voices, Choices and Law - Weighing Children’s Views in Justice Proceedings. Brill: UK: Liverpool. Green open access

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Although Article 12 is seen as the jewel in the crown of the UNCRC, would any adult want to be blessed or cursed with this right? The Article 12 concept, to weight children’s views, is fraught with splits, contradictions and paradox. Contradictions include: being guided by principles or by calculated utility; developmental stage theory versus ‘respect for...the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family’; redefining children’s daily activities (expressing wishes and feelings, refusing, protesting) as conditional permissions; reducing richly experienced knowledge into stark risk-benefit calculation; medical and legal expertise versus respect for patients’ choices. Article 12 treats adults as the agents. They inform, assess and possibly ‘provide opportunities’ for children to be involved, and they ‘weight’ children’s views. Powerful ‘negative’ rights of freedom of expression and non-interference are turned into weak, highly conditional ‘positive’ rights (using Isaiah Berlin’s concepts). Whereas adults’ views are ‘weightless’ (not assessed or compared) children’s views appear to have some weight in surgical decisions, less in medical decisions, and none in the reported court cases. Might children benefit if UNCRC and the children’s rights industry were replaced by explicitly including children in all the ‘adult’ human rights conventions, and requiring that any move to apply different standards to children is strongly justified?

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Weight for Children’s Views in Medical Law
Event: Multidisciplinary Workshop Voices, Choices and Law - Weighing Children’s Views in Justice Proceedings, Liverpool, United Kingdom, 5th November, 2015
Location: Liverpool University
Dates: 05 November 2015
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1163/15718182-02601004
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1535488
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