Statement of Inclusiveness

The American College of Pediatricians (College) strives to encourage and/or provide the best for children. Nonetheless, the College recognizes that no child is born into, or raised in, a perfect family. Regardless of a child’s family circumstances, the child’s genetic endowment, environmental experiences, or choices that the parents or child make, the College works toward the best possible outcomes for that individual child. Thus, the College encourages its members to care for all children whose parents or guardians seek their medical care. Members are encouraged to do this within the purview of their expertise and practice constraints, such as compliance with recommended care and appointment keeping. In any physician practice and with any patient, good medical care means treating patients with respect and understanding. It does not mean acceding to every request, particularly when, in the physician’s best medical judgment, such a request is either useless or not in the patient’s best interest. Treating patients with respect includes giving our best advice even if the advice is counter to what the parent/patient wants to hear or believes. Being understanding includes caring for patients in need, even if they or their parents are non-compliant with the physician’s advice.

Here are some examples of such situations:
1. A child denied vaccination by the parents. The College is strongly pro-vaccine, but urges its members to continue to see children even when parents refuse to vaccinate. The child needs our care, and in this context it may be possible to encourage the parents to accept at least the more critical vaccines.
2. An asthmatic child with a parent who refuses to stop smoking. Despite the parent’s poor choice and refusal to follow the physician’s advice to stop smoking, the child still needs our care.
3. A child being reared in a non-intact family.  Although the best situation for most children is with a mother and father who are married to each other, separation may be in a child’s best interest in cases of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse, and beyond this, not all children are raised by married biological parents. Whatever the circumstances, and regardless of whether the parents are heterosexual or homosexual, the child needs, and will receive our care.
4. A child who refuses to comply with the physician’s recommendations.  Although the College has published thoughtful, science-based, recommendations regarding sexual activity, the College encourages its members to continue to care for adolescents (of any sexual orientation) even if they do not follow proper advice. This does not mean that member physicians will facilitate risky behavior, but as caring physicians they will address the patient’s acute and chronic needs while continuing to encourage healthy behavior.