Medical Ethics PHIL 148 @ Binghamton University, Sum 11


Debate 1 Sammy Ahmed

Question: If a young deaf child (5-years-old) expresses a desire for a cochlear implant (which has a chance of allowing her to hear), but the deaf mother of the child decides not to let her go through with the procedure, would it be morally wrong for the doctor to get a court order to allow him to perform the surgery?


Yes I believe it is morally wrong for the doctor to obtain a court order to allow him to perform the surgery because as a physician he/she is overstepping their boundaries in the patient-professional relationship.  The doctor would not be allowing for the patient to reserve their own autonomy.   A major issue here is whether or not the child will be able to live a normal life without his sense of hearing.  It is obvious that the child’s mother’s stance is that yes the child will be able to using herself as the example.  Though the life may be more difficult for the child it is indeed possible.  A deontologist may have a problem with the Doctor’s actions because one could argue that the doctor only wants the procedure done for his end (money).  This would infer of course that the mother’s money is all the doctor is concerned with and would give him justification to deem the procedure necessary.  The presence of the deaf mother leads to the belief that the procedure is not necessary and the child can still live a normal life like its mother is.  I also think it is significant to point out that most other parents would want this procedure done for their child because what parent would know fully allow their child to live with a disadvantage or disability.  The mother strongly believes that her child will be able to function properly and live a normal life.  The child’s state is not life threatening and thus the procedure is not entirely necessary.  The child would still be able to make most of life’s important decisions except for those obviously pertaining to sound such as what radio station the child prefers.  After all, Ludwig Van Beethoven eventually lost his hearing and he is revered as one of the most talented musicians of all time.   Furthermore, the doctor is disregarding the mother’s role as a parent.  The mother should have final say about whether or not the cochlear implant should be performed.  She may not believe the implant is appropriate for a number of reasons.  One mentioned before was that the mother does not believe the sense of hearing is necessary to live a happy successful life as she has.  Another reason for denying the cochlear implant it perhaps the mother does not have the necessary resources to make the procedure happen.   A cochlear implant may be a very expensive procedure and it may not be worth the parent’s time and effort to restore the child’s hearing.  I understand this sounds unethical on the parent’s behalf, allowing their child to “suffer”, but I believe it is up to the parent, not the doctor or the courts, to make this decision.  I don’t believe anybody else has the authority to tell a parent how to raise their child or make decisions for the parent.  The court order would force the mother to allow the doctor to perform the cochlear implant.  Unless of course the parent is deemed unqualified to raise their own children such is the case with drug addicts.  In this case however, the mother is only described as deaf so I am making the inference that she is fully capable of raising her child.

Posted by

Comments (11) Trackbacks (0)