Disability, mental illness, and medical assistance in dying in Canada: Recent slippery slope and social determinants of health arguments miss the mark

By Jocelyn Downie and Udo Schuklenk In its 2015 landmark Carter decision, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that the blanket criminalisation of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) unjustifiably infringes on Canadians’ rights and declared that the prohibitions were: “of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person […]

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The Values of Life, Liberty, and the Law: A Tale of Two (As)Sumptions

By John Coggon Lord Sumption, a retired Justice of the UK Supreme Court, has been a prominent contributor to debates on government pandemic responses. Representing an uncompromising libertarianism, he is a consistent, highly critical commentator on restrictions regulations and associated official guidance. However, there are some perplexing tensions between his practical and ethical assumptions when […]

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Making a killing: The imperative to waive COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights

By Harry Hudson Recent lobbying disclosures revealed that over 100 lobbyists have been deployed to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the pharmaceutical industry to block generic manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines. The background here is that the richest countries have over half the purchased vaccine doses, yet only 16% of the global population. This has […]

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Why do we need to distinguish ‘valid’ and ‘informed’ consent to medical treatment?

By Emma Cave. Common law and ethics require that consent is voluntary, that it is made by a person with capacity and that it is sufficiently informed. But it does not follow that consent that is insufficiently informed will necessarily be considered in law to be invalid. Since Montgomery in 2015, the requirement of informed […]

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Refusal redux: Revisiting debate about adolescent refusal of treatment

By Dominic Wilkinson. Last month, in an emergency hearing, the High court in London heard a case that characterises a familiar problem in medical ethics. A 15 year old adolescent (known as ‘X’) with a long-standing medical condition, sickle cell disease, had a very low blood count and required an urgent blood transfusion. However, X […]

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Patents, private governance and access to vaccines and treatments for Covid-19

By Aisling McMahon Recent moves such as by the United States and United Kingdom to negotiate deals to access large quantities of vaccines/medicines for Covid-19 within their territories raise serious questions around access to healthcare and global equitable distribution. Such attempts to secure preferential access, although understandable within the national context, can jeopardise supplies of […]

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Can Welfare Powers of Attorney in Scotland refuse medical treatment on the granter’s behalf?

By Amanda Ward There is ambiguity to what extent Welfare Powers of Attorney (WPA) in Scotland can refuse or withhold consent to medical treatment. The primary legislation to be consulted is the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 (AWIA). A welfare power of attorney relates to decision making in relation to the granter’s personal and […]

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