Bioethics Blogs

Simon’s Law – Requiring Parental Consent for DNAR Orders

Both Kansas and Missouri are considering enacting Simon’s Law.  This legislation would prohibit clinicians from placing DNAR orders on critically ill children without their parent’s knowledge or consent.

KNOWLEDGE:  Prohibiting secrecy and covertness is a solidly defensible goal.  As a series of recent high profile UK court decisions explain, clinicians should not write DNAR orders without family knowledge.  

CONSENT:  But the Simon’s Law legislation also requires clinicians to obtain parental consent.  I have called this sort of requirement a “red light” law.  And I have been critical of this approach.

But the father of the child for whom the law is named wrote a powerful newspaper letter.  Scott Crosier questions whether “medical professionals and institutions . . . are all-knowing and a better decision-maker than a parent or loved one. . . .  Do they really believe their medical acumen is so superior to a family’s love?”

CPR is not physiologically futile for a baby with Trisomy 18 or for other critically ill babies.  Therefore, the appropriateness of CPR is not a medical or scientific judgment.  It is a heavily value-laden judgment about whether CPR is worthwhile. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.