Maybe you should move to Massachusetts. Last February, a state Appeals Court ruled that judges must hear direct testimony from a “mature minor” when considering whether the minor may refuse life-saving medical treatment. Before this verdict, judges could merely be informed of a minor’s opinion.
The court said judges must interview the minor and determine whether the minor is mature before deciding what is in their best “interest.” A minor still does not have the power to refuse treatment but at least judges must hear a minor’s opinion. Judges also must consider the minor’s religious beliefs, the probability of adverse side effects from treatment, prognosis (course of a disease) without treatment, and the competency of the minor to make that decision.
The case arose when Alexis Demos, a 17-year-old Lenox girl who was seriously injured in a Jan. 26 snow boarding accident, refused to allow doctors the option of giving her a blood transfusion. Demos and her parents objected on religious grounds.
The hospital then convinced a judge to give doctors the right to administer a transfusion, if necessary. The judge’s verdict was overturned by the recent Appeals Court verdict.
Finally judges are realizing that most teenagers are mature enough to know the consequences of their actions. This decision combined with Massachusetts’ decision to allow 14-year-olds to receive life-sentences means that people under 18 in Massachusetts are, in some cases, being treated like adults.
It may seem strange to get excited about 14-year-olds getting life-sentences but if the judges and politicians thought that teens were like infants, then teens would not be allowed to go to prison or refuse medical treatment. It is only a matter of time, before all judges and politicians realize that teens, who often get higher SAT scores than their lawyers, are smart enough to decide if they want to drink, smoke, or have sex.
Right now, in Massachusetts, 16-year-olds can drop out of school, consent to have sex, hold a job, and drive. Eighteen-year-olds can vote, marry, and get an abortion.
And now there is no minimum age for the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment. Perhaps, society could dispense with all age restrictions and instead decide cases based on the maturity of the individual. A judge may rule that a mature, developed 14-year-old woman could choose to have sex with her 15-year-old mate. Yet, an immature 18-year-old could have the right to annul her marriage if she claimed that she is so immature that she did not understand all of the repercussions of her vows.
What do you think?