Parental Consent Not Needed for Children Under 16 Years Old to Take Puberty Blockers
On the 6th of May, the Supreme Court of the UK declined to take the Bell v Tavistock case, regarding puberty blockers for teenagers under 16 years old, which means the ruling by the Court of Appeals will currently stand. After the High Court ruled that 13-year-olds were not old enough and needed parental consent to begin hormone blockers; Tavistock appealed in June of 2021 and the Court of Appeals ruled that it was not the High Court's decision to make. Instead, they ruled that parental consent was unnecessary and that clinicians could decide it with their patients. This is a significant concern for Christian parents who would disagree with such treatment.
The case was brought by Ms Bell, a woman who started taking puberty blockers at the age of 16 and then de-transitioned after regretting her decision. She felt that there was insufficient inquiry or questioning when she made the decision and did not want other children to make the same mistake. If parental consent were required, it would propel children to evaluate the consequences more and get advice from their parents. In the case of Christian parents, it is an area of increased concern as children could be encouraged to life-changing decisions that contradict the religious convictions of their parents.
The case was declined by the Supreme Court as the Court of Appeal's decision did not "raise an arguable point of law." Ms Bell was disappointed by the decision but did not regret bringing the case as it "shone a light into the dark corners of a medical scandal that is harming children and harmed me." She continued: "I am obviously disappointed with the ruling of the court today, and especially that it did not grapple with the significant risk of harm that children are exposed to by being given powerful experimental drugs."
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust commented: "We welcome the Supreme Court's decision. We are proud of our hardworking, caring and thoughtful colleagues in GIDS (gender identity development service). They and the patients they support will be relieved by the end of this period of uncertainty."
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