When Better Isn’t Good Enough: Commentary on Ross’s “Better than Best (Interest Standard) in Pediatric Decision Making”

 

Erica K. Salter, The Journal of Clinical Ethics 30, no. 3 (Fall 2019): 213-7

 

In this commentary, the author discusses two strengths and two weaknesses of “Better than Best (Interest Standard) in Pediatric Decision-Making,” in which Lainie Friedman Ross critiques the best interest standard and proposes her own model of constrained parental autonomy (CPA) as a preferable replacement for both an intervention principle and a guidance principle in pediatric decision making. The CPA’s strengths are that it detaches from the language and concept of “best” and that it better respects the family as a distinct and intimate decision-making unit. The first weakness of the framework, as an intervention principle, is that because it imports a Rawlsian understanding of basic interests, it neglects certain populations of children (for example, children with intellectual disabilities). The second weakness is that, as a guidance principle, it is unclear what actual guidance the CPA is positioned to offer and how that guidance would be justified. To conclude, this commentary offers suggestions for what should be required of both an intervention principle and a guidance principle in pediatric decision making.

 

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