A recent case in the Seattle area of a 14 yr old boy with leukemia who refused a blood transfusion because of his adherence to the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses has raised questions about whether a juvenile is sufficiently competent to refuse lifesaving medical treatment due to religious beliefs.
To add more to the story, the boy was living with his aunt, who is a devout Jehovah's Witness, not with his biological parents, who are not.
A lot of the bloggers at ScienceBlogs are commenting on this tragedy to varying degrees, some questioning the patient's age, some considering undue influence from the aunt. Given current laws regarding medical treatment, protection of minors, and indeed, refusal of elective procedures like tubal ligation for competent adult women, this ruling will force us all to rethink our own standards on what is considered sufficiently competent in a patient, to what extent parents and guardians ought to be held accountable to harm that comes to those in their care because of beliefs they enforce, and which reasons are applicable enough to use to choose something as permanent as death.
(Of note: there have been other incidents recently involving Jehovah's Witnesses refusing lifesaving medical treatment, such as a woman who chose to die after giving birth to twins.)