ERIC Number: ED241622
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1984-Jan-29
Reference Count: N/A
[Parental Rights versus Government Responsibility for Infant Medical Care.] Remarks before the American Jewish Congress, New York Metropolitan Council (January 29, 1984, New York, New York).
Reynolds, Wm. Bradford
A recent ruling in the Baby Jane Doe case held that as parents are ultimately responsible for a child, and as in this case, the parents were not recipients of Federal assistance, neither they nor the hospital following their instructions to withhold treatment from their handicapped newborn are subject to Federal provisions about discrimination on the basis of handicap (Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act). This argument is seriously flawed. Although our laws recognize that children's rights are generally best safeguarded by parents, these rights are independently protected by Federal constitutional and statutory guarantees. State child neglect and abuse laws also recognize that parents' and children's rights are not always coterminous and provide for governmental and judicial intervention in certain circumstances. The law extends these protections on an equal basis to "individuals" without reference to age, infirmity, or incapacity. Thus, a hospital cannot use the excuse of parental non-consent, but has a legal responsibility to initiate appropriate action to override parental authority in certain circumstances. Furthermore, a hospital and its staff can effectively discriminate against a handicapped child throught the advice and information given to the parents concerning the child's condition and prognosis. Given this reality, Federal access to hospital records is the absolute minimum protection due to the handicapped infant under Section 504. (CMG)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Civil Rights Div.