Rosemary Flanigan, PhD
June 18, 2010
The new issue of Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics arrived and I read the “Ethics Committees at Work” section first—as I always do. (Oftentimes I use the issues there and in the Hastings Center Report for my brown bag sessions.)
This time it was a request for the “Ashley Treatment”
(remember the 2006 case of the profoundly developmentally compromised six-year-old in Seattle for whom the Children’s Hospital had attenuated growth, removed breast buds and performed a hysterectomy for the best interests of her parents to care for her).
This case concerned a nine-year-old on the East coast but a similar request.
And the commentaries were excellent: the pediatrician, while admitting initial lack of a moral compass, thought he could attenuate growth but no more; the philosopher and senior medical ethicist from Stanford argued that the surgery should be performed; the ethicist from the U.K. said, “Leave this case to the courts,” and John Paris and a law instructor showed why this case goes beyond the scope of an ethics committee, viz., that there are societal issues that demand a closer look at broader implications than could be expected of an ethics committee.
There are some places we should not go.
I need to refresh my memory if our ethics committee has refused case consults and on what grounds. Do you faithful readers have some examples—and not just of cases that clearly lacked ethical relevance. HELP!!!
Labels: bioethics; Ashley X; medical ethics; pediatric medical ethics