Children and Medical Ethics

Instructors: Prof. Elizabeth Reis
Tuesdays, 4:00 – 6:40 PM
Macaulay Honors College, Online
Course Code: MHC 318

This course will focus on ethical controversies in children’s health. Many of these debates have been discussed widely outside doctors’ offices, and so lay people often have strong opinions about them. For their part, physicians who specialize in various aspects of children’s health have started to incorporate ethics training into the medical school curriculum. Because children can’t direct their own care, the question of how to make good medical decisions on their behalf arises. Since children can’t make informed choices about their own care, physicians have to act in the children’s best interest, and sometimes parents and doctors don’t agree on what those best interests are.

This course will explore selected debates in pediatric ethics. Some controversies have been around for a while (should parents put fat children on diets?) and others are more recent (should physicians prescribe puberty blockers for children who want to change their gender?) Our reading will be interdisciplinary and will include the voices of historians, philosophers, pediatricians, disability scholars, parents, and affected children themselves, among others.