Category Archives: Medical Law

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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Why Shouldn’t “Lunatics” Run the “Asylum”?: Re A (Application for DNA Testing) and Attitudes to Children in Proceedings

Dr Aoife Daly

Staff at the European Children’s Rights Unit (University of Liverpool) and elsewhere are involved in Children’s Rights Judgments – a project to progress the use of a children’s rights approach in judgment writing. Re A (Application for DNA Testing) [2015] EWCA Civ 133 concerns an appeal against a judgment of the Liverpool County Court and it provides a notable case study to consider from a children’s rights perspective. It is probably the least child-friendly judgment you are likely to see in this jurisdiction in recent times. The reaction by a judge to the application of a child for a court order makes for extraordinary reading, and serves as a reminder of the distance left to travel in terms of universal acceptance of children’s rights as legal actors and indeed as human beings.

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Denial in Bahrain? The Links Between Sickle Cell Disease, Detention and Tear Gas.

Dr. Gearóid Ó Cuinn

Since the outbreak of pro-reform protests in Bahrain in early 2011 security forces have deployed an unprecedented amount of tear gas resulting in the deaths of numerous individuals. This torrent has also revealed a genetic component to Bahrain’s political unrest through a record spike in sickle cell deaths – a condition that predominantly affects the marginalised Shia population.

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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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Queer Theory and the Age of Consent

Dr Sarah Beresford comments upon the recent calls for a lowering of the age of consent.  Towards the end of 2013, the topic of changing the age of consent in England and Wales was much in the news.  She suggests that much of the debate has focused expressly or impliedly on the age of which men and boys have sexual intercourse (whether gay or straight). Those who argue for a reduction in the age of consent use (whether knowingly or not) a queer theory approach to the issue.  Queer theory, originally intended to be a liberating phenomenon, has in fact become synonymous with white gay men. Consequently, the debate on the age of consent has ignored or given insufficient attention to the effect(s) a lowering of the age of consent will have on girls and women.

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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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