Law, Autonomy and Advance Directives

Journal of Law and Medicine, 18, pp. 366-389, 2010

Posted: 10 Jul 2016

See all articles by Lindy Willmott

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

The principle of autonomy underpins legal regulation of advance directives that refuse life-sustaining medical treatment. The primacy of autonomy in this domain is recognised expressly in the case law, through judicial pronouncement, and implicitly in most Australian jurisdictions, through enactment into statute of the right to make an advance directive. This article seeks to justify autonomy as an appropriate principle for regulating advance directives and relies on three arguments: the necessity of autonomy in a liberal democracy; the primacy of autonomy in medical ethics discourse; and the uncontested importance of autonomy in the law on contemporaneous refusal of medical treatment. This article also responds to key criticisms that autonomy is not an appropriate organising principle to underpin legal regulation of advance directives.

Keywords: medical treatment, advance directive, autonomy, self determination, withholding and withdrawing treatment

Suggested Citation

Willmott, Lindy and White, Ben, Law, Autonomy and Advance Directives (2010). Journal of Law and Medicine, 18, pp. 366-389, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2806831

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

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