Chapter

The Right to Life and Autonomy

Elizabeth Wicks

in The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199547395
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594373 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547395.003.0007
The Right to Life and Autonomy

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This chapter focuses on the interest and right of autonomy which may conflict with the right to life in the context of suicide and other life-threatening autonomous actions. The positive obligations imposed upon states under the right to life in this context are identified, including any special duties imposed in relation to individuals under the control of the state, such as prisoners and mental patients. It is argued that, in respect of a clear suicide attempt by a mentally competent adult, the state’s negative duty not to infringe an individual’s autonomy will outweigh its positive obligation to take reasonable steps to preserve life under the right to life. Suicide should not, therefore, be criminalized but the state is also not required to provide assistance in committing suicide.

Keywords: autonomy; suicide; assisted suicide

Chapter.  12729 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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