Intended for healthcare professionals


Time to legalise assisted dying?: What autonomy really means

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 06 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:841
  1. Charles A Foster, barrister (
  1. Outer Temple Chambers, London WC2R 1BA

    EDITOR—Branthwaite makes it all sound simple.1 For the assisted dying lobby, autonomy is the ruling principle in medical ethics. It trumps all other principles. But there is a deep irony here: death abolishes autonomy. Dead men cannot choose. So if you really respect autonomy, you have to be very careful about giving autonomy its head.

    Of course if people are simply asked: “Would …

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