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Activist campaigns for mothers’ right to approve medical attention for children

By Rana Husseini - May 05,2015 - Last updated at May 05,2015

AMMAN — A local activist has launched a campaign demanding equal rights for women with regard to medical intervention for their children.

Reem Jazi, mother of a three-year-old boy, launched a petition “as a step, aiming eventually at changing Article 123 of the Civil Law for the year 1976”.

The said article stipulates that medical intervention such as programmed operations for minors requires the approval of a male guardian and lists them in order as the father or anyone the father recommends, then the direct parental grandfather of the child or anyone he recommends, and if they are not available, then it is up to the court to decide who the guardian of the children is, according to Health Ministry Spokesperson Hatem Azrui.

“I am not only a mother, I'm a law-abiding citizen that pays her [taxes] to the country. Not being able to admit my son to hospital when needed is outrageous by any means,” Jazi told The Jordan Times.

She said that the petition, which will eventually be presented to Parliament, calls for scrapping this article.

“Mothers should have the right to look after their children's health. This is indeed a right, not a privilege,” Jazi stressed.

The petition comes almost seven months after the death of a one-week-old baby named Qais after a hospital refused to let his mother admit him for urgent medical intervention because his father did not sign the necessary papers.

The case is being heard at a civil court at present.

Azrui told The Jordan Times that hospitals are abiding by Article 123 of the Civil Law which clearly identifies children's guardians.

But in the event that there is an urgent medical case, the official added, Article 18 of the Jordan Medical Constitution “instructs physicians to take the necessary measures to save lives regardless of who the guardian is”.

Commenting on the case of Qais, Azrui said hospitals “cannot take the responsibility for admitting minors if they do not get the male guardian’s approval and at the same time cannot force people to admit their children. Their role is advisory and it is up to the parents to decide”.

Jazi said she is not calling for cancelling the male guardian’s rights. 

“We want to amend the law to grant mothers the same rights that will enable them to look after their children.”

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