I'm in my second week of "Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care". If I said that I'm having a lot of fun with the material, you might get the wrong impression. This is a serious topic. However, I am really enjoying awakening a long dormant part of my mind.
One of the course requirements is an 8-10 page research/opinion paper where we examine an ethical issue and take a stand on that issue, supporting it using ethical arguments. I picked my topic before the course officially began (knowing the assignment from the syllabus that was posted online two days before class began). My instructor has approved my topic, though he says I've picked a challenging one. I've already pulled together a pile of research readings. And, tonight, I came up with a working title for my paper, which I'm hoping will focus my efforts: "Consent verses Assent and Influence verses Autonomy: Self-determination in pediatric and adolescent health care decision-making"
Basically, I'm interested in how involved children should/can be in their own health care decision making. As a parent, I feel like I know what is best for my child. On the other hand, my "child" will be thirteen years old in a few days. A few hundred years ago, many societies considered thirteen to be a milestone marking adulthood. Should my "child" or any "child" have a say in what treatments/therapies they receive, or should the decisions be totally up to the parent? Should participation in that decision making process really be dictated by the somewhat arbitrary industrial-society delineation of attaining eighteen years of age?
My teenage years are not so far away that I cannot remember what it felt like to have most of my decisions made for me by my mother. Most of the decisions made on my behalf were fine with me. Most. On the other hand, it felt unfair and stultifying to have decisions made for me with little or no input from me.
This class is going to be more mentally challenging than anything I've been involved with in twenty years. It's a little scary. Then again, it's kind of invigorating.