Antonio D'Aloia

At the Limit of Life: Deciding on Medical Treatment

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Right to Health, Constitutional Interpretation, Self-determination

Does the right to health imply a freedom to choose not to be treated? Is abstention from therapeutical treatment admissible even if it can lead to an evolution of the pathology and of the clinical condition such to ultimately result in the death of the patient? An ethical and legal debate has developed concerning these issues (and a series of cases, among which that of Eluana Englarowas paradigmatic) and controversially involved essential categories of Constitutional Law, i.e. both referring to the configuration and the limits of these innovative claims for autonomy, and to the issues of "who" (legislator, courts, physician, patient) and "how" these end-of-life situations should be decided or regulated. In Italy, the constitutional normative language appears to be ambivalent and incapable of offering a clear framework and a definitive set of answers to all the problems linked to the issue of dignity in dying. The Author then tackles the extreme case of interrupting artificial nutrition and hydration, and its difficult position in the distinction (which in principle should be safeguarded) between the refusal to be medically treated and euthanasia, in the strict sense of the term.

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