Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 18 (2):243-251 (2021)

Reports of children participating in hunger strikes while detained in offshore detention centres raise interrelated ethical issues and recognizable challenges for the medical decision-makers at these sites. A composite case study, informed by reports in the public domain, is employed to explore the unique challenges of consent and decision-making in these circumstances and the perennial issues inherent in adolescents’ developing capacity and autonomy. We present an amalgamated case of a fourteen-year-old adolescent who refused to consent to medical reversal of her hunger strike protest. The medical team became the final arbiter when her parents, who were also in detention, could not agree with each other even after mediation. The case explores the complexity of evaluating the adolescent’s capacity to provide informed consent while influenced by the opinions of co-detainees in this extreme setting. We argue that the parents and the child had compromised decisional capacity due to the effects of detention. The challenges to the medical team are recognized and discussed. The team members faced a difficult dilemma and considered the competing values of the multiple cultural and ethical factors. Each team member integrated his or her own roles, duties, and discipline-specific professional guidelines with the primary goal of mitigating potential harms.
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DOI 10.1007/s11673-021-10099-y
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The Moral Judgement of the Child.Jean Piaget - 1933 - Philosophy 8 (31):373-374.
The Moral Judgment of the Child.Jean Piaget - 1934 - Mind 43 (169):85-99.

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