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Part of the reason for the ongoing confusion regarding the status of assisted suicide is the cluttered moral and legal matrix that is normally invoked to evaluate the practice. It results in a calculus that is impossible to coherently unravel, allowing commentators to tenably assert any position. The authors attempt to inject clarity into the debate by… (More)
Nowadays, suicide is considered essentially a private act, although what constitutes suicide for epidemiological and even clinical purposes in not wholly resolved. Historically, however, at common law, the act of self-killing was a felony with significant religious and legal consequences that impacted upon the deceased person as well as upon his or her… (More)
The aim of this article is to demonstrate that the ruling commonly cited as the original precedent(1) for the doctrine that, at common law, medical practitioners' duty of confidentiality to their patients does not apply to court testimony,(2) did not, in fact, establish any such theory. The ruling by Lord Mansfield was made in the context of… (More)
This analysis traces the origins and evolution of the doctrine of surrogate or substituted judgment, especially its application to medical treatment, including non-therapeutic sterilisation, decisions regarding life and death choices, and more recently, removal of sperm or eggs from incompetent, dying or dead males and females. It argues that the doctrine,… (More)
When assessing decisional competence of patients, psychiatrists have to balance the patients' right to personal autonomy, their condition and wishes against principles of medical ethics and professional discretion. This article explores the age-old legal and ethical dilemmas posed by refusal of vital medical treatment by patients and their mental capacity… (More)