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The Right to Die and the Irish Constitution

The Right to Die and the Irish Constitution G. F Whyte* . The decision of the majority of the Irish Supreme Court in In re a Ward of Court clearly establishes that. in the case of incompetent patients, the courts may, in appropriate circumstances, authorize a course of action which leads to the patient's death. The reasoning used by the majority also supports the proposition that competent patients have a right to die. In the following article. it is argued that the extent of both the state's power to authorize a course of action resulting in the death of an incompetent patient and the right of a competent patient to choose such a course of action remains unclear. Moreover, it is suggested that this is arguably due to the failure of the Supreme Court majorlty to clarify their understanding of the sanctity of life and, in particular, how that value interacts with the autonomy of the individual. Introduction Two developments, in the medical and legal fields respectively, have brought the issue of the right to die to the forefront of debate in Western society. New medical treatments and technology are now capable of sustaining life in circumstances in which the social quality of the patient's existence http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Public Law Kluwer Law International

The Right to Die and the Irish Constitution

European Public Law , Volume 3 (2) – Jun 1, 1997

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Kluwer Law International
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Copyright © Kluwer Law International
ISSN
1354-3725
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Abstract

G. F Whyte* . The decision of the majority of the Irish Supreme Court in In re a Ward of Court clearly establishes that. in the case of incompetent patients, the courts may, in appropriate circumstances, authorize a course of action which leads to the patient's death. The reasoning used by the majority also supports the proposition that competent patients have a right to die. In the following article. it is argued that the extent of both the state's power to authorize a course of action resulting in the death of an incompetent patient and the right of a competent patient to choose such a course of action remains unclear. Moreover, it is suggested that this is arguably due to the failure of the Supreme Court majorlty to clarify their understanding of the sanctity of life and, in particular, how that value interacts with the autonomy of the individual. Introduction Two developments, in the medical and legal fields respectively, have brought the issue of the right to die to the forefront of debate in Western society. New medical treatments and technology are now capable of sustaining life in circumstances in which the social quality of the patient's existence

Journal

European Public LawKluwer Law International

Published: Jun 1, 1997

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