1The child’s right to bodily integrityBrian D. EarpPrécisIn this chapter, an infringement of bodily integrity (BI) is defined as any penetration into a bodilyorifice, breaking of the skin, or alteration of a person’s physical form. A violation of a person’s rightto BI is any infringement of their BI that wrongs them. An autonomous person is wronged by aninfringement of their BI if they did not consent to it. If a person is incapable of consenting becausethey are temporarily non-autonomous – as in the case of an intoxicated adult or a pre-autonomouschild – the infringement should be delayed until the individual becomes autonomous and can maketheir own decision. It is only when the infringement cannot be delayed without putting the person intoa situation they would beeven less likelyto consent to (if they were autonomous) that theinfringement does not wrong them. Given the seriousness of violating anyone's right to BI, andespecially that of the most vulnerable persons, the appropriate likelihood-of-consent for proceedingwith a BI infringement on a child is argued to be at or near the ‘medically necessary’ threshold.NOTE: THIS IS A PREVIEW OF THE CHAPTER; THE PUBLISHER HAS NOT ALLOWEDPRE-PRINT POSTING OF THE FULL CHAPTER. PLEASE CONTACT THE AUTHOR FORTHE FULL CHAPTER @[email protected].IntroductionSuppose you are a healthy adult, minding your own business, and a stranger comes along and cuts you witha knife. Not badly – just a little slice out of your arm, let’s say – but enough to draw blood. If you did notconsent to this, it seems obvious that this stranger has seriously wronged you. In fact, you might say youhave arightagainst other people intentionally cutting you (or otherwise crossing your physical boundaries)without your consent, no matter how mildly. This is sometimes expressed as a right to ‘bodily integrity.’iLet’s say thatbodily integrity(BI) refers to the physical state of being all in one piece, unbroken,undivided, intact. So, skin puncturing of any kind would negate this. What about borderline cases, like if Ijam my finger in your ear? I’d have entered your bodily sphere, in some sense, and if you don’t want myfinger there, I am most likely wronging you in some way. But it isn't clear whether I am actually infringingThis is the author’s copy of a published book chapter. This version may be cited as follows:Earp, B. D. (2019). The child’s right to bodily integrity. In D. Edmonds (Ed.).Ethics and theContemporary World(pp. 217-235).Abingdon, UK and New York, USA: Routledge.
2on your ‘bodily integrity’ as we have defined it. So let’s just stipulate that any intentional (or negligentlyaccidental) penetration into a bodily orifice, breaking of the skin, or alteration of your physical form, countsa BI infringement.