Father can't force son, 12, to undergo chemotherapy: appeals court

The Amsterdam appeals court decided not to force a 12-year-old boy to undergo chemotherapy for a brain tumor in a ruling on Tuesday. A child psychiatrist judged that the boy is capable of making the decision to refuse treatment, and his father was not able to sufficiently raise doubts about this finding, the court ruled, RTL Nieuws reports.

The boy's father filed a lawsuit against the Youth and Family Protection foundation earlier this year. The foundation supervises the child's treatment. In May the court ruled that the boy should not have to undergo treatment he does not want. The father appealed, but the court of appeals now also ruled against him.

Late last year the boy received six weeks of radiation therapy for a brain tumor. He was set to start chemotherapy in March, but he decided that he does not want to. A child psychiatrist assessed him and found him capable of making this decision. According to the psychiatrist, the boy does not seem to be depressed. "He has a very strong will to live, but can also think about death." the psychiatrist concluded. 

According to Dutch law, kids under the age of 12 cannot decide for themselves on medical treatment. That decision is left up to their parents or guardians, but the doctor must explain to the child what treatment will entail in terms the child can understand, according to RTL.

Between the ages of 12 and 16, decisions on treatments are made in consultation with both the child and the parents. At this age children are generally able to understand their situation, which means that the child's opinion often outweighs that of the parents. After the age of 16, no parental input is required.