The “family rule” paper by Dr Foreman proposes a way of resolving the present uncertainty about medical law on children's consent and refusal. This commentary reviews how doctors' decisions are already well protected by English law and respected by the courts. The “family rule” appears to be likely only to complicate the already diffuse law on parental consent, and to weaken further the competent minor's position in cases of uncertainty and disagreement. It leaves the difficult questions about defining and assessing children's competence unanswered. This commentary suggests that these questions would be better resolved through professionally determined standards of good practice that respect children and parents, rather than through rules or laws.
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