Treatment decisions of mature teenagers “ought to be respected,” Supreme Court of Canada rules
OTTAWA, Canada—The Supreme Court of Canada issued a significant decision holding that once an adolescent under the age of 16 proves he or she has sufficient maturity to make a particular medical treatment decision, the adolescent’s treatment decision “ought to be respected” by doctors and the state. That ruling was handed down on June 26, 2009.
A.C., one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is pleased that although the Supreme Court declined to find the appealed statute unconstitutional, it nonetheless redefined the child welfare legislation in Manitoba to make it “constitutionally compliant” by recognizing the treatment decisions of mature adolescents. The case of A.C. v. Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services) arose from A.C.’s religiously based refusal of blood transfusions. In recognition of the “major impact” of A.C.’s successful argument that child welfare legislation “should be interpreted in a way that allows an adolescent under the age of 16 to demonstrate sufficient maturity to have a particular medical treatment decision respected,” the Supreme Court awarded A.C. her costs.
The official Supreme Court decision is available at http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/index.html.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600