Redefining the Definition of Death for Australian Legislation
Smith, Russell Gordon
Melbourne University Law Review 1983 December; 14(2): 199-237
In the article Mr. Smith considers the need for reform in the area of defining when death occurs and the various approaches that exist to define death. He then analyses the stages of the developments in the various Australian jurisdictions and discusses the substantive content of the basic definition adopted and the practical implications of any enactment. The author suggests that the concept of death should be legislatively enacted in relevant pieces of legislation which call for a resolution of the question at the present time and a more general separate statement defining death should be avoided at the moment. Conceptually death should be defined as the permanent and irreversible loss of consciousness of the individual as determined by irreversible cessation of the brain stem function. The actual operational criteria of death should form the subject of a circular published by the relevant statutory health authority for the guidance of medical practitioners in relation to the specific problems they face.
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