Ethical Principles for the Management of Infants With Disorders of Sex Development
Gillam, Lynn H
Hewitt, Jacqueline K
Warne, Garry L
Hormone research in pædiatrics 2010; 74(6): 412-8
The Fifth World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights (Halifax, August 2009) adopted a resolution endorsing a new set of ethical guidelines for the management of infants and children with disorders of sex development (DSD) [www.lawrights.asn.au/index.php?option = com_content&view = article&id = 76&Itemid = 109]. The ethical principles developed by our group were the basis for the Halifax Resolution. In this paper, we outline these principles and explain their basis. The principles are intended as the ethical foundation for treatment decisions for DSD, especially decisions about type and timing of genital surgery for infants and young children. These principles were formulated by an analytic review of clinician reasoning in particular cases, in relation to established principles of bioethics, in a process consistent with the Rawlsian concept of reflective equilibrium as the method for building ethical theory. The principles we propose are: (1) minimising physical risk to child; (2) minimising psychosocial risk to child; (3) preserving potential for fertility; (4) preserving or promoting capacity to have satisfying sexual relations; (5) leaving options open for the future, and (6) respecting the parents' wishes and beliefs.
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