The Legal Politics of Growth Attenuation

Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, Forthcoming

48 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2013 Last revised: 22 Aug 2013

See all articles by Ravi Malhotra

Ravi Malhotra

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Katharine R. Neufeld


Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 27, 2013


In this article, we consider the implications of growth attenuation should it ever arise in the Canadian context. While parental autonomy to make crucial health care decisions and exercise control over minors is not a right that should be lightly dismissed, we argue that growth attenuation is entirely inappropriate and should never be regarded as ethically permissible for children. We ground our perspective in the social model of disablement which stands for the proposition that it is structural barriers that are chiefly responsible for the marginalization experienced by people with disabilities in every area of social life including employment, transportation, and housing. Critical disability theory applies the social model to new public policy problems and we regard our intervention as a modest attempt at rethinking a bioethical dilemma through the prism of critical disability theory. We do so through a review of the case law and through a consideration of relevant ethical principles, paying particular attention to the scholarship of Martha Nussbaum’s theories of equality for people with intellectual disabilities.

Keywords: critical disability theory, Ashley treatment, biomedical ethics and disability

Suggested Citation

Malhotra, Ravi and Neufeld, Katharine R., The Legal Politics of Growth Attenuation (March 27, 2013). Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Ravi Malhotra (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5

Katharine R. Neufeld

Independent ( email )

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