Journal Article

Adolescent Parents and Medical Decision-Making

Kenneth De Ville

in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine

Published on behalf of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy Inc.

Volume 22, issue 3, pages 253-270
Published in print June 1997 | ISSN: 0360-5310
Published online June 1997 | e-ISSN: 1744-5019 | DOI:
Adolescent Parents and Medical Decision-Making

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The growing phenomenon of teenage pregnancy introduces the problem of who should serve as surrogate decision makers for the children of adolescent parents. The justifications which sanction society's grant of presumptive decision making authority for adult parents, and the rationales and empirical evidence supporting a central role for adolescents who wish to make medical decisions regarding their own care, together suggest that older adolescent parents should be viewed as the presumptive decision makers for their children. There is, however, empirical evidence that adolescent parents lack the cognitive abilities of childless adolescents of the same age and that many exhibit lower levels of emotional stability, sensitivity to infant needs, and social adjustment. These deficiencies, where present, undermine the very justifications for allowing adolescents to make medical decisions for their children. These findings are strong enough to justify a greater level of watchfulness over the competency and decisions of those adolescents who wish to make decisions for their children, but not definitive enough to conclude that, as a group, they be presumed incapable of making those decisions.

Keywords: adolescent parents; competency; surrogate decision making and children

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Medical Ethics ; Bioethics ; Public Policy

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