The Way Forward for Medical Aid in Dying: Protecting Deliberative Autonomy is Not Enough

© Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry. First published in the Supreme Court Law Review, Second Series, Vol. 85.

52 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2018

See all articles by Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry

Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry

McGill University - Faculty of Law; McGill University - Institute for Health and Social Policy

Date Written: June 30, 2018

Abstract

Mainstream public and legal debates, decisions, and norms about medical aid in dying (MAiD) have focused primarily on the deliberative facets of autonomy and have paid far less attention to its social components. As a result, safeguards may fail to properly protect the autonomy of vulnerable persons.

After introducing the factual and theoretical background of this problem (Section I), I will explain the distinction between deliberative and social dimensions of autonomy, and why a right to autonomy might entail not only protecting an agent’s decisional capacities, but also certain conditions enabling the realization of such capacities (Section II). In Section III, I will explain that legal and bioethical discourses about autonomy have traditionally focused on its deliberative dimensions. This explains, in part, why one should not be surprised that the judicial interpretation of the right to liberty in the Carter decision focused on deliberative capacities (Section IV) and that the legal and regulatory MAiD frameworks set up by our federal and provincial governments similarly focus on deliberative autonomy (Section V). Section VI outlines an alternative interpretation of the right to autonomy that recognizes the necessity of social resources and proposes a principled way of constraining that right. Section VII maps the kinds of social determinants of autonomy in the context of MAiD that our government should monitor and analyze in order to enact proper safeguards to protect socially vulnerable people in the future.

Keywords: Medical Aid in Dying, Autonomy, Vulnerability

JEL Classification: K32, Z18, I31, I18

Suggested Citation

Beaudry, Jonas-Sébastien, The Way Forward for Medical Aid in Dying: Protecting Deliberative Autonomy is Not Enough (June 30, 2018). © Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry. First published in the Supreme Court Law Review, Second Series, Vol. 85., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3189417

Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
Canada

McGill University - Institute for Health and Social Policy ( email )

Charles Meredith House
1130 Pine Avenue West
Montreal, Quebec H3A1A3
Canada

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