Parental Rights and Informed Consent In Medicine

Consent has been helping parents since 2018


Consent is a UK charity helping parents with matters of parental rights and informed consent in healthcare. We publish guidance and blog on related issues. You can also call or emails us for advice. Over the years we have advised parents on their rights, written letters for parents, launched legal challenges, challenged NHS trusts on Gillick competence policies and run awareness raising campaigns.


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Once again we see that claims popular among so-called "common-law" or "freeman of the land" advocates are simply not true. These assert that only by registering the child's birth do they become "property of the state" and that not doing so means the state has no authority over them.
In this case, a mother, C, had been infected with HIV during childhood vaccinations in her country of birth (not the UK). Now pregnant, C was very reluctant to take anti-retroviral medication meant to help her unborn child and was also reluctant to agree to her child being treated after birth. She had told doctors that she knew other HIV positive mothers who had given birth to children without treatment and that the children were HIV negative. The court was told she now regretted having told her doctor she was pregnant.
The judge expressed understanding of C's mistrust in orthodox medicine given her experience. He also acknowledge that there was no question she wanted the best for her child. Although Justice Hayden made the order allowing the treatment to take place, this sort of application is not a walk in the park for hospitals.
UK courts consider such an order "at the extremity of what is permissible under the Convention [European Convention of Human Rights] and a highly exceptional course of conduct". The application was therefore tested rigorously. Nevertheless judges will always rely on expert evidence. They can't second-guess doctors on how serious or not a certain course of action will be.
State authority therefore assumes a right over the baby as soon as he or she is born. In this case this happened under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. The question of registering the birth did not even arise.

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