American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with a statement regarding the informed consent of pediatric patients. It has been discussed that a child as young as 7 years old can now have informed consent about the medical treatment they would be receiving. They released a statement saying, “This will foster the moral growth and development of autonomy in young patients.” Dr. Aviva Katz, a pediatric surgeon, says this will help in the understanding of neurodevelopment and the evolving decision-making abilities of adolescents.
If we don’t expect kids to drive unless they have had hours of practice, then why would we allow our kids to make advanced medical decisions without it? Critics will argue that the law says differently, there is a drinking age, a smoking age, a voting age, and not an informed decision age. But the only way doctors can allow these children to make these decisions is if they are well informed about what is taking place and what is happening to them.
Ethically speaking, this new suggestion makes sense. Making tough decisions at a young age will help adults function excellently as a human, and will help lead them to happiness. Making difficult decisions will also help children build their personal virtues, which is having the proper relationship with one’s self. If we are taught at a young age to care about ourselves and our bodies, then as an adult it should be ingrained in our heads that we should do so, which will lead to a more excellent life. Aristotle says that happiness is the end goal of all of our actions, and if we build personal virtues along the way (moral skills and intellectual skills), then this will lead us to functioning excellently as a human being, which in and of itself, is happiness.