Document Detail

Euthanasia: the law in the United Kingdom.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  8759231     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The regulation of euthanasia by the criminal law has tended to be one of the more contentious areas of medical law, and continues to be the subject of debate. Few areas of the criminal law have been so consistently the target of reformist pressure, and certainly few areas have so strongly resisted change. Understandably, legislators are unwilling to involve themselves in a matter of law reform which engenders such moral disagreement, and it is significant that only two jurisdictions-The Netherlands and the Australian Northern Territories-have made any substantial change in their legal practice in this area. In other countries, including the UK, the courts and legislators have consistently refused to remove the fundamental criminal law objection to the practice of euthanasia. This is not to say, of course, that the courts have failed to recognise the medical subtleties in medical treatment at the end of life; in several important decisions, the courts in Britain have considered the boundaries of the criminal law's protection of life and have offered guidelines for doctors facing the delicate issues associated with treating the dying patient. Yet, in spite of several helpful decisions from the courts, the basic principle remains firm: the criminal law does not countenance the taking of life, no matter how good the motive. This means that there are very clear legal limits to the extent to which doctors can follow their individual consciences in this area.
A M Smith
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  British medical bulletin     Volume:  52     ISSN:  0007-1420     ISO Abbreviation:  Br. Med. Bull.     Publication Date:  1996 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1996-09-26     Completed Date:  1996-09-26     Revised Date:  2004-11-18    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376542     Medline TA:  Br Med Bull     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  334-40     Citation Subset:  E; IM    
Faculty of Law, University of Edinburgh, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Euthanasia / legislation & jurisprudence*
Euthanasia, Passive / legislation & jurisprudence
Great Britain
Patient Advocacy
Suicide, Assisted

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