Chapter

The Right to Life and the Quality of Life

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/9780199547395.003.0008
The Right to Life and the Quality of Life

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This chapter investigates the potentially conflicting interest of quality of life. It considers whether the right to life continues to offer protection for incompetent patients with negligible quality of life and then proceeds to consider the requirements of the right if its protection is applicable. The person/human distinction is rejected in the context of human rights law. The key issue in withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment is not whether the right to life is applicable (for, in respect of a not yet brain dead human being, it will always be applicable) but rather what steps will be reasonable for the state to take in order to preserve the individual’s life. In determining this, the other rights of the patient must be taken into account, including of particular relevance the right to be free from degrading treatment and the right to privacy and autonomy.

Keywords: quality of life; withdrawing life-sustaining treatment; positive obligations; personhood theory

Chapter.  9955 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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