Ethical Frameworks in Practice
As per the situation in the given case, a 6-year boy caught fever and because of violent vomiting, the school staff decided to take him to the hospital for treatment. At the hospital, the doctor attending the boy diagnosed that the boy was suffering from meningitis. This disease took place because of the bacterial infection, and in the case of lack of proper treatment, could turn to be life-threatening.
As per the procedure, the doctors decide to proceed for the treatment and seek for the parents’ permission before beginning. The parents of the boy were divorced and the mother was the primary custodian of the child. The boy lived with his mother, while the father lived separately in a different state. The mother, who did not hold a biological relation with the boy, was a Christian scientist. According to her religious faiths, no medical procedures are allowed on the body. Thus, she did not permit for the treatment. However, the biological father wanted his son to get a proper treatment for the disease. This leads to an ethical dilemma, which plays a crucial role in the conflict:
The mother was not the biological parent, but she was having the primary custody of the child. Therefore, she had all the legal rights to take the decisions for her son. In the current scenario, she did not want to take any medical treatments for her son, owing to her religious beliefs.
The mother was following Christianity and was a religious scientist. It has been observed that the highly spiritual Christians don’t get treatments for illness. They are firm believers of the fact that any kind of pain can be relieved by prayers and trust God to treat their illness. In the given scenario, even if she wanted to get a proper treatment for her son, her religious beliefs did not allow her to do so. She was bound by the belief that if a religious scientist won’t believe in the principles of her faith, who else would? This torn her up in a dilemma.
On the other hand, her divorced husband and the biological father of son wanted to start a proper treatment for the disease. But legally, he did not have any rights to decide anything, since he was not the custodian of his son.
All these situations of legal, religious and social dilemmas caused nothing other than suffering to a 6-year old boy, who is supposed to be treated with fair medicines for the disease to cure. Failure to begin on the timely treatment may prove to be fatal for the child.
Ethical Dilemma model
We would take into consideration the RESOLVEDD method (Pfeiffer & Forsberg, 2004). Below is an outline of the method, which helps in resolving the dilemma:
R- review: Reviewing the facts about history and background.
As discussed above in the study, we now know the situation of the family, and their social and religious background.
E- estimate: Estimating the situation and conflict matter.
As evident from the case, the primary cause of the conflict is the religious factor of the mother. The mother is a Christian Scientist and hence, she does not want her son to get any medical treatments. She is also the legal decision maker for the child, since she is the primary custodian. However, the father wants to begin the treatment immediately, but he does not hold any decision making power legally.
S- solution: Solution to the case.
This problem can be solved in two ways. First is to begin the medical treatment of the boy. Alternatively, follow the mother’s ways and pray for the child’s wellness in the Christian way and wait for the pain to be healed by Christ.
O- outcome: Outcomes of the solutions offered
a) If the treatment begins on time, the boy might be cured in a short amount of time.
b) If his mother wants to proceed in the Christian way, then there may be a hope that Christ will heal his illness and provide relief to the boy.
L- likely impact: Impact of the situations on humans and nonhumans
a) If no proper alternative is identified, the life of the 6-year old will be in danger.
b) If medical treatment is done, then the mother, who is a Christian scientist, would run into a chance of being considered opposing the religion and church, which might be opposed by her followers.
c) In the case of medical treatment, the Church and the Christian communities might not be happy with the mother, even if the child is cured and healed properly.
d) The treatment in the Christian way does not hold any surety and poses extreme danger to the life of the child.
V- values: Identifying the value of impact
In all above dilemmas, it is the life of the boy which is in danger. Therefore, one should not think from the religious and personal point of view. The priority should be the well-being of the boy.
E- evaluate: Evaluate outcomes from solution and impacts
The impacts and their outcomes have already been analysed and evaluated. Based on this analysis, we are in a good position to go ahead and make a decision.
D- decision: Make a decision
D- defend: Defend the decision
As per above discussion, we can decide to start the medical treatment for the boy. The trust in God and prayers will provide the strength, but indulging the decision making power in superstitions would only call for more trouble for the child.
Suggestion to the family
“I understand that it is a very difficult time for you as parents. Your 6-year old kid suffering from such a disease could break you. But what I advise you is to have faith in God and pray to make his life better. Pray to forgive us for our sins. Pray to give us the strength to work hard and the hands to help the poor and the needy. But try to stay away from the superstitions that Christ or prayers only can treat the kid and heal his disease. He is always there to help his children and we all are under his guidance, but the illness or diseases need to be treated by proper scientific procedures medications. If your child does not receive proper treatment or medicines, there might be a chance that you would regret your decision in the later run. As a Christian scientist, I respect your duties and your belief in God but please don’t prioritize your religion over a 6-year old child’s life. I would also want to suggest you to give support to your son’s father and help him to search for a good doctor, who can provide proper treatment to the child”.
Ethical Decision Making Models. (2015). Retrieved July 8, 2015, from http://www.ryerson.ca/ethicsnetwork/resources/ethicaldecision/
Kvanig, J. (1999). The RESOLVEDD Method (R. Pfeiffer & R. Forsberg, Eds.).
Pfeiffer, R., & Forsberg, R. (2004). Ethics on the Job: Cases and Strategies (3rd ed.).