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Young people and medical procedures: Whether or not young people can be competent to make medical decisions in their own interests

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 08:17 authored by Easton, M
Young people, as they grow older, gain increasing competency to make their own decisions - this is reflected in many areas of their lives. Yet, in relation to medical procedures, the case law both in Australia and in England suggests that the area remains uncertain, with courts often resorting to tests of best interests in lieu of personal autonomy, particularly where the medical procedure increases in complexity and/or urgency. In fact, at common law, young people must prove themselves to be more competent than adults in order to have their ethical autonomy respected. Legislation in two States in Australia has addressed the issue. However, reform is needed to prescribe an age at which competency of a young person may be presumed for both consent and refusal of medical treatment. Further, the adoption into legislation of the test of Gillick competency would provide for determinations below the age of presumption, and restrict the practice of courts imposing best interests over a young person's own interests.


Publication title

Journal of Law and Medicine








Faculty of Law


Lawbook Co.

Place of publication


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Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters

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