Category Archives: Ethics

What is “Proper Medical Treatment”?

Dr Sara Fovargue, Lancaster University
Dr Alexandra Mullock, University of Manchester

The relationship between medical practice and criminal law is much closer than many realise. Doctors are permitted to do things that others are not, provided that what they do is regarded as ‘proper medical treatment’. The legal justification for bodily invasions in the medical context has developed according to the ‘medical exception’ to the criminal law discussed by the House of Lords in the cases of R v Brown [1993] and Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1994], and by the Law Commission in 1994. As those involved in sado-masochistic activities discovered in Brown, consent, in the absence of medical (or legitimate sporting) justification, is not enough to make harming others lawful. And in Bland, while it was legitimate for the doctors to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, if a concerned relative did the same it would become a criminal matter.

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A right to die or a step too far? Assisted dying and being ‘tired of life’

Prof Suzanne Ost

This blogs considers the case of Anne, recently reported to have received an assisted death at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland because she was tired of life and the digital age. I reflect on the implications of this case and the question of whether it can be legitimate to permit assisted dying on the basis of such existential suffering.

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Forced caesarean and forced adoption: Facts and fictions – Re AA [2012] EWHC 4378 (COP); Re P (A Child) [2013] EW Misc 20 (CC) – Part I

Dr Sara Fovargue

Towards the end of 2013 it was reported in the media that a declaration had been issued by the Court of Protection on 23 August 2012 (transcript published on 4 December 2013) that it was lawful for a caesarean section to be performed on a 35 year old Italian citizen against her will, and a care order regarding the baby was subsequently obtained by the local authority.  Headline writers had a field day; ‘Child taken from womb by social services’, ‘Please don’t take my baby: Agony of mother whose baby was put up for adoption after secret court judge forced her to have a caesarean’, ‘Forced caesarean case: Italian woman “suffering like an animal”’.  The judgment and transcript of the caesarean case and the case report concerning the adoption tell a slightly different story (as I discuss below and in Part II), and the reporting of the story has subsequently been questioned by some, including Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division.

Transcript: Re AA [2012] EWHC 4378 (COP)

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hand holding injection syringe

The welfare principle in action: Best interests and the MMR vaccination – F v F [2013] EWHC 2683 (Fam)

Dr Sara Fovargue

On 12 October 2013 the Family Division of the High Court published a judgment which had been handed down in private on 5 September 2013 concerning an application from a father for a specific issue order under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 requiring that his 15 year old (L) and 11 year old (M) daughters received the MMR vaccination.  Dr Sara Fovargue considers the case and its implications.

Case transcript: F v F [2013] EWHC 2683 (Fam)

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