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HEAL Seminar: 14 January 2015, with Isra Black speaking on ‘Best interests (physician) assisted death’

In 2015, Best interests, Death and dying, Meetings on January 12, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Happy new year to you all.

We kick off 2015 with a HEAL seminar this week, with Isra Black from King’s College London speaking on ‘Best interests (physician) assisted death’. Isra can also be found on Twitter @israblack.

Abstract I propose a model for assisted death based on two criteria: (i) that P has made an autonomous decision; (ii) that assisted death is in P’s best interests. I argue that there is legislative space for this model despite autonomy being the principal focus of the majority of the Supreme Court in Nicklinson. I also claim that this model for physician assisted death could be brought within the medical exception, therefore bypassing the need for legislation. Finally, I attempt to show that best interests physician assisted death would be preferable to an ‘autonomy only’ model, or a model that took a medical condition or status (such as terminal illness) as a substantive criterion.

The seminar will begin at 4pm on Wednesday 14 January in room 2055, building 4 (Law staff room). All welcome.

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Happy New Year from HEAL!

In 2014, Gratuitous self-promotion, News on January 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

Having had a much needed break, things are starting to kick off again at HEAL. There are plenty of plans unfolding, both in the shorter and longer term. Whilst a month’s extension on the holiday would have been welcome, there’s a lot to be pleased to come back into work for.

There are various things happening in January. We are delighted to be playing host to Malcolm Oswald on the 8th, when we’ll hear his paper “Drawing the line between identifiable and anonymised health data: dilemmas for a conscientious public servant”. As is so often the case with questions in health policy, it will put some important matters under the spotlight with little by way of promise for helpful guidance from law itself.

The following week, both John Coggon and A.M. Viens are off to Germany for a meeting at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research at Universitat Bielefeld, on “Individual Liberty and Problems of Justice in Public Health Ethics”. It will be a fantastic chance for them to showcase some research on conceptual and normative problems at the intersection of ethics, law, and politics in health policy.

At the end of the month, when semester two starts, Natasha Hammond-Browning is picking up the Health Care Law teaching (to include a cameo from Caroline Jones!). The semester two teaching will be much more issue-led, as contrasted with the more foundational work on law and ethics in semester one. Natasha’s half of the semester will focus on beginning of life matters; questions central to her research interests. Towards the end of term, John will take over and speak to issues concerning the end of life, and public and global health.

We are pleased to announce too that John is becoming the new Editor-in-Chief of Health Care Analysis in January, and that A.M. Viens has joined the editorial board. It is great that this journal, with its strong focus on philosophy and health policy, now has a firm base in HEAL.

Looking a bit further forward, we’re very excited that two of HEAL’s PhD students, Alex Chrysanthou and Emma Nottingham , were successful in 2013 in leading a bid to host the Annual Postgraduate Bioethics Conference in Southampton. The conference theme is going to be “Health Law and Bioethics at the Frontiers of Innovation.” It promises to include some excellent keynotes and top quality papers on a range of bioethical questions.

The next hidden lawmakers event, on ‘Test Case Biographies’, funded by the British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust and run by Caroline, Hazel Biggs, and Jonathan Montgomery, is on the horizon this semester, as is a meeting organised by John along with Jurgen de Wispelaere on the theme: “Towards a Republic of Health? Freedom and Solidarity in Public Health and Health Policy.” A.M. Viens is also co-organising two events in the spring. The first is a workshop on Disaster Justice, co-hosted by European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) and the University of Copenhagen. The second is a symposium on the Ethics of Antimicrobial Resistance, hosted by the Brocher Foundation in Geneva.

We’re also between us looking forward to hosting more visitors, making more research visits , and to participating in further public consultation responses.

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2014!

HEAL: Winding Down for the Holidays

In 2013, Gratuitous self-promotion on December 17, 2013 at 8:38 am

The Centre for Health Ethics and Law (HEAL) has had a busy and exciting start to the 2013/14 academic year. In September we were delighted to welcome both Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning and Dr A.M. Viens to Southampton Law School. Natasha’s interests include stem cell research and start of life issues more broadly, especially with regard to regulatory bodies/frameworks and reform. A.M. Viens’ research focuses on ethics, legal theory and public policy, especially public health ethics and law, global health and emergency/disaster management. In light of our growing critical mass, HEAL’s structure has also evolved, with Dr A.M. Viens taking up the mantle of Deputy Director and Dr Caroline Jones the role of Director.

Over the course of the summer, our University website was entirely revamped; and our continued engagement on Twitter has led to both friendly banter on-line, and a lunchtime seminar on the A NHS Trust v DE [2013] case (the much-discussed Court of Protection decision authorising the sterilisation of a man with learning difficulties) accompanied by excellent tea. In all, since September, HEAL has hosted three other events, in addition to the second instalment of the ESRC funded seminar series on Criminalizing Contagion , led in Southampton by Dr David Gurnham.

Our first meeting in October focused on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics consultation on Children in Research. Our response can be read in full here:HEAL response to NCOB Children and Clinical Research ethical issues FINAL. In our concluding remarks, we made the following suggestion:
In terms of the provision of practical guidance in specific cases, where it is uncertain
which principles should apply, perhaps something akin to the intervention ladder used
in the NCOB (2009) Public Health: ethical issues report about how to approach
public health interventions would be useful to researchers. One could foresee some
framework that helps to guide researchers when encountering tough cases as to
whether they should be, e.g., seeking assent, whether or not they should be asking
parents for consent for sensitive research, etc.

We look forward to reading the NCOB’s Report on this complex area.

The next meeting was known colloquially as Jonathan Montgomery’s swansong for Southampton, as he moved on to pastures new at the Faculty of Laws, UCL. Jonathan’s paper on ‘What is Medical Law ‘for’?’, saw him present a wide-ranging argument that contained two challenges to key ideas about illegitimacy in medical law. The first questioned the practical nature of legal legitimacy more broadly, whilst the second looked at medical decision-making as compared with judicial decision-making. The paper forms part of an exciting, on-going debate with scholars including Professor José Miola at Leicester, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in print in due course.

In November, the Twittersphere met ‘real’-life, in a HEAL event dedicated to a discussion of A NHS Trust v DE, led by one of our 2006 vintage (i.e., graduates), Jess Connelly, and Dr Andreas Dimopoulos of Brunel Law School, whose different constructions of the use of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in DE led to an interesting and engaged discussion. One question we are left with is the very way that health care law asks us to conceptualise persons, their rights, and the means of exercising health rights; would the law be more ethically defensible if we treat all persons as if they always have capacity, and does it even make sense to do so?

Last but not least in terms of events, this month Dr Andrew McGee from QUT spoke on a perennial debate in health law and bioethics; the act/omission distinction and end-of-life decision-making. Andrew combines a conceptual and a common-sense moral approach to analysing the law’s framing of causation, and generates a defence of the principle underpinning lawful treatment withdrawal in cases such as Bland. His talk, which was very well received, generated a stimulating discussion, defending a position that many scholars find — in the words of Lord Mustill in the Bland case — “both morally and intellectually misshapen.”

Meanwhile Dr Remigius Nwabueze and Professor Hazel Biggs have been flying the HEAL flag further afield, with Remi enjoying his research leave in Canada, and Hazel speaking on the ‘Legal aspects of cluster randomized truals under EU and UK Law’ at a recent Health Research Authority event.

Finally, as this is a ‘gratuitous self-promotion’ post, it would be shameful to miss the opportunity to embarrass John Coggon re his commendation at the BMA book awards in September, and to remind folk that he has co-edited two books that have come out this Autumn: with Swati Gola, Global Health and International Community ; and a volume led by A.M. Viens and co-edited too with Anthony S. Kessel, Criminal Law, Philosophy and Public Health Practice. It hardly needs noting that each would be a perfect stocking filler …

On that note, we wish you all the very best of wishes for a wonderful festive season – we’ll be back in 2014!

Caroline Jones, John Coggon & A.M. Viens

Next event: ILRG/HEAL event on The Law’s Response to Alcohol Problems with Jonathan Goodliffe

In 2013, Meetings on May 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

Oops, we’ve had a little hiatus on the blog – apologies, hopefully a more ‘normal’ level of service can now resume …

With that in mind, our next HEAL event is a joint ILRG/HEAL event organised by Johanna Hjalmarsson, of the Insurance Law Research Group at Southampton Law School: The Law’s Response to Alcohol Problems: A discussed led by Jonathan Goodliffe. Jonathan is a practising solicitor who has carried out extensive research in the field of alcohol misuse and how it is addressed within the law and the legal profession. He will give a brief introduction to current scientific approaches to the study and treatment of alcohol problems. He will also discuss how those problems are dealt with (or as the case may be not dealt with) within various legal fields such as crime, employment, childcare, professional discipline, and insurance.

This event will run from 2pm in the Law School (4/2055) on Wednesday 29 May 2013.
Please let us know you are coming:jhj@soton.ac.uk

Nuffield Council on Bioethics celebrates 20 years

In 2012, Human tissue on January 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Yesterday a number of us received copies of a Report reviewing and celebrating 20 years of events and activities since the establishment of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in 1991. The Report includes a foreward from the current Chair, Professor Albert Weale, who notes the increasing global life expectancy – since 1950 – from 46 years of age to 70 (80 in wealthier nations), and the bioethical questions provoked by increased well-being:  ‘In short, how can we lead lives, collectively as well as individually, that embody respect and justice given our growing understanding of health and life processes?’

Prof. Weale goes on to say:  ‘[T]he Council has sought to anticipate and not merely respond to public concerns, accepting that it will never have the last word but hoping sometimes to have the first. Its success has relied upon all those who have been on working parties, provided evidence and opinion in public consultations, worked for the Council secretariat or sat on the Council itself.‘ (emphasis added)

We are delighted to have been able to contribute to the public consultation that fed into one of its most recent reports, Human Bodies: donation for medicine and research – this was a revisitation of the issues around the use of human tissue/bodily materials in medicine and research, the subject of the Council’s second enquiry, which reported in 1995. HEAL, in its capacity as a consultation respondent, is cited on p88: ‘Whilst it might be right to try to meet ‘demand’ for renewable materials such as blood, the ‘demand’ for female egg donation in potentially limitless’. Further, both HEAL and the University of Southampton have strong links with the Council itself, as Professor Anneke Lucassen and Professor Hugh Perry are current Council members, and Dr Caroline Jones has recently provided evidence on legal and policy issues arising from mitochondrial DNA donation.

We wish the Nuffield Council on Bioethics a very successful future.