A Doctor’s Dilemma – Parent’s Right to Refuse Consent

“It is instructive to note that the law exists primarily to protect life and preserve the fundamental rights of its citizens inclusive of infants.The law would not override the decision of a competent mature adult who refuses medical treatment that may prolong his life but would readily intervene in the case of a child who lacks the competence to make decision for himself… I hold the view that it could have amounted to a great injustice to the child if the court had stood by and watched the child being denied of basic treatment to save his life on the basis of religious conviction of his parents"

In the recent case of Esabunor v. Faweya, Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Nigerian Supreme Court, painted an emotional picture of the implication of inaction by the courts in an event of refusal by a parent to grant consent to administer medical procedure to a child in dire need. By its decision in this case, the Supreme Court has laid to rest the age long controversy over the right of parents to refuse treatment on their underage children.

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