Should the Confucian Family-Determination Model Be Rejected? A Case Study
The Journal of medicine and philosophy 2010 Oct; 35(5): 587-99
This essay explores a tragic event that happened in China, which garnered much attention, the Li case: a young woman who was nine months pregnant and her baby died as a result of the failure to receive a medically necessary c-section due to the hospital having failed to secure her family's consent for the c-section. Differing from some critiques, this essay argues that the Li case should not be used to blame the Confucian family-determination model that has been applied in Chinese society for thousands of years. Based on summarizing the reasons supporting the model, this essay indicates that it is an integral part of the model that, in emergency or special cases, the physician must take medical action to save the patient, without the need to secure the consent of a family member. In order to prevent tragic cases like the Li case from happening, we recommend that relevant Chinese laws be further developed and specified and that, most importantly, Chinese physicians must cultivate the Confucian virtue of benevolence in their practice of taking care of patients in a virtuous way, along with patients' families.
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