A Test for Mental Capacity to Request Assisted Suicide
Journal of medical ethics 2011 Jan; 37(1): 34-9
The mental competence of people requesting aid-in-dying is a key issue for the how the law responds to cases of assisted suicide. A number of cases from around the common law world have highlighted the importance of competence in determining whether assistants should be prosecuted, and what they will be prosecuted for. Nevertheless, the law remains uncertain about how competence should be tested in these cases. This article proposes a test of competence that is based on the existing common law but which is tailored to cases of assisted suicide. The test will help doctors, other health professionals and lawyers determine whether the suicidal person was able to competently request assistance. Such knowledge will help to reduce some of the current uncertainty about criminal liability in cases of assisted suicide.
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