45 FOOTNOTES - FOOTNOTES: n1. The term "adolescence" is...

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FOOTNOTES: n1. The term "adolescence" is defined as "that age which follows puberty and precedes the age of majority." Black's Law Dictionary 49 (6th ed. 1990). Taken at face value, the dictionary definition provides a certain and measurable upper boundary of adolescence - a legislative designation of a chronological age. This author suggests, however, that adolescence is not so simplistic a concept. For more than two decades, psychologists and sociologists have generally recognized adolescents as a unique group of persons in our society. See Franklin E. Zimring, The Changing Legal World of Adolescence at xi (1982). They have acknowledged that while "the beginning of adolescence can be set quite accurately (as it is defined by the specific physiological criterion of sexual maturity), the terminal point of adolescence can only be approximated, for there is no sharp differentiation between adolescence and adulthood." David Krech et al., Elements of Psychology 70 (2d ed. 1969). Legal doctrine has not yet been aligned with scientific data. As one commentator explains, "law and social science have been talking past each other on issues relating to adolescence for quite some time . .. [and] legal doctrines relating to adolescence frequently appear strained and are susceptible to gross misinterpretation." Zimring, supra, at xiii. This Comment illustrates Professor Zimring's observations by exploring the law's response to adolescents who refuse life -saving medical treatment. n2. This Comment primarily addresses the issues implicated when adolescents refuse " life -saving," not " life-sustaining ," medical treatment. Refusal of life-saving treatment involves refusal of curative treatment, thus creating a " life or death" situation. Lisa Anne Hawkins, Note, Living Will Statutes: A Minor Oversight, 78 Va. L. Rev. 1581, 1595 (1992). On the other hand, decisions regarding the discontinuation of life-sustaining treatment involve a "quality of life " inquiry. Id. at 1595-96. The term "necessary medical treatment" will be used interchangeably with " life -saving medical treatment" throughout this Comment. n3. See infra notes 13-17 and accompanying text (discussing the case of Benny Agrelo, a two-time liver transplant patient who refused to continue his immunosuppressant regimen because of its debilitating side effects). Within the past several years, the media have reported stories similar to Benny's. One of the most publicized cases of adolescent noncompliance with life -saving medical treatment involved 16-year-old cancer patient Billy Best. Billy ran away from home for several weeks in October, 1994, with the intent of travelling from Massachusetts to California by bus, because he could not cope with the hair loss, nausea and weakness from twice-monthly chemotherapy. John Ritter, Mass. Teen on the Run - from Chemotherapy, USA Today, Nov. 11, 1994, at 8A. In a note he left in his bedroom before leaving town, Billy explained, "The reason I left is because I could not stand going to the hospital every week. .. I feel like the medicine is killing me instead of helping me."
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2011 for the course PHIL 2400 taught by Professor Shaefer during the Spring '11 term at Xavier LA.

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45 FOOTNOTES - FOOTNOTES: n1. The term "adolescence" is...

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