The small silver lining on this very dark cloud has come by way of this Court now modifying the lower court rulings that drastically restricted CD’s parental rights and his freedom of expression.
The father is now once again entitled to communicate his views about the risks and dangers of AB’s current treatment to AB. The Appeal Court noted that AB is a mature minor with capacity to make medical treatment decisions, and this capacity “includes the ability to listen to opposing views.” AB’s capacity to consent does not remove all parental involvement from medical decisions: “Parents can be involved in the process of explanation, instruction and advice leading to the obtaining of the informed consent of the child. They should be involved as part of that process wherever possible.”
Regarding CD’s freedom of expression, the Appeal Court noted that “the values underlying the right to freedom of expression include finding the truth through the open exchange of ideas, which extends to protecting minority beliefs that the majority regard as wrong or false.” However, the Court also ruled that the father’s right to express his opinion publicly and to share AB’s private information to third parties “may properly be subject to constraints aimed at preventing harm to AB. The Court will not restrict “CD’s right to express his opinion in his private communications with family, close friends and close advisors, provided none of these individuals is part of or connected with the media or any public forum, and provided CD obtain assurances from those with whom he shares information or views that they will not share that information with others.”
While AB continues to receive testosterone injections, this Appeal Court ruling at least shows greater respect for freedom of expression and for parental rights than did the lower courts. But it’s a small victory in the overall context of this sad case.