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Report No. 196

(1) Re B (a minor)(wardship: medical treatment): 1981(1)WLR 1421 (Templeman & Dunn L.JJ.)

A baby girl was suffering from a Down's Syndrome since her birth and she also had intestinal blockade which was amenable to surgery. If surgery was not done, she would die in a few days. With surgery, she could live upto 20 to 30 years. The parents objected to permission for surgery as they felt that the child would remain mentally and physically handicapped, if she survived. The local authority made her a ward of Court and applied to the Court to direct the surgery to be carried on. Ewbank J held that the parents' view should be respected and that it was not in the best interests of the child to authorize the surgery.

But the Court of Appeal differed on the ground that, if operated, the child would live the normal life span of a 'mongoloid child' with the handicaps/defects/life of such a child and in as much as it was not established that a life of that description ought to be extinguished.

The Court of Appeal held that as the child had been made a ward of the Court, the Court would decide what was in the "best interests" of the child and the decision did not lie with the parents or doctors, though the views of the parents and doctors will be kept in mind. The Trial Court erred in going only by the wishes of the parents. The Court directed the surgery to be conducted.

Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Back

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