Parental Rights, Medical Child Abuse, and Child Protection

Medical Ethics Concerns in Physical Child Abuse Investigations: A Critical Perspective

From the Executive Summary:

Focusing on the medical ethics duties involved in child abuse allegations that come to the attention of doctors, this Paper first presents five illustrative cases that document in detail how the medical profession interacted with the child protection system to disrupt the family life of children who were ultimately determined not to be victims of child abuse after all...After the detailed presentation of these cases, the Paper reaches several important conclusions.

Read our explanation of Medical Ethics Concerns.

Bad Medicine: Parents, the State, and the Charge of "Medical Child Abuse"

Eichner begins by describing Medical Child Abuse (MCA) cases:

  • First, a doctor or hospital threatens an MCA diagnosis if parents don’t agree to their prescribed plan of treatment.
  • Then, they call child protection officials, who treat the diagnosis as “demonstrating, or at least highly indicative of, child abuse.”

As a result, parents “are fighting in court to retain custody and, in some cases, to avoid termination of parental rights. In a rare but rising number of cases, states prosecute these abuse charges criminally, so that parents must also fight to avoid prison.” And all the parents wanted was help for their sick child! (Eichner 2016, 210-11)

Read our explanation of Bad Medicine.