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Autonomy is said to be the predominant ethical principle in modern bioethics, and is enshrined in the law. Autonomy underpins the concept of consent which is meant to protect the right of patients to make decisions based on their own perception of what is the 'right' decision to make. The notion that consent underpins a good or beneficent medical intervention is deeply rooted in the jurisprudence of most countries throughout the world.
Autonomy, Consent and the Law examines these notions in the UK, Australia and the US, and critiques the way in which autonomy and consent are treated in bioethics and law. The book argues that the debate in bioethics about the true nature of autonomy while rich, has had little if any impact on the law's development in this area, save arguably in limited circumstances.
A second theme will inquire as to whether or not the law's development has been consistent with the model of autonomy it purports to defend - that is the liberal, self-determination model. This will be done by selecting four areas of the law which most readily lend themselves to consideration of the autonomy principle: refusal of treatment, maternal/foetal issues, genetics and assisted dying. This book will be of interest to scholars of medical law and bioethics.