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Laws, Volume 4, Issue 2 (June 2015) – 10 articles

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Open AccessArticle
The Exercise of Legal Capacity, Supported Decision-Making and Scotland’s Mental Health and Incapacity Legislation: Working with CRPD Challenges
Laws 2015, 4(2), 296-313; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020296 - 18 Jun 2015
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2940
Abstract
Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly as interpreted in the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities General Comment No. 1, presents a significant challenge to all jurisdictions that equate interventions permitted under their [...] Read more.
Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly as interpreted in the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities General Comment No. 1, presents a significant challenge to all jurisdictions that equate interventions permitted under their mental health and incapacity laws with mental capacity. This is most notable in terms of the General Comment’s requirement that substitute decision-making regimes must be abolished. Notwithstanding this, it also offers the opportunity to revisit conceptions about the exercise of legal capacity and how this might be better supported and extended through supported decision-making. This article will offer some preliminary observations on this using Scottish mental health and incapacity legislation as an illustration although this may also have relevance to other jurisdictions. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Solidarity and the Encapsulated and Divided Histories of Health and Human Rights
Laws 2015, 4(2), 272-295; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020272 - 12 Jun 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3304
Abstract
This article examines the central but neglected principle of solidarity in human rights, health and bioethics, a concept subject to contention, evasion and confusion. It addresses the general ambivalence toward solidarity within law, philosophy and politics by discussing solidarity’s co-evolution with inegalitarian encapsulations [...] Read more.
This article examines the central but neglected principle of solidarity in human rights, health and bioethics, a concept subject to contention, evasion and confusion. It addresses the general ambivalence toward solidarity within law, philosophy and politics by discussing solidarity’s co-evolution with inegalitarian encapsulations and divisions of human rights. It argues that a renewed conception of solidarity is essential to meet increasingly salient ethical demands, as gender equality and the individualization of responsibilities coincide with deficits of care and collective responsibility. Questions of embodiedness, (inter)dependence, care and asymmetry are neglected by dominant liberal approaches, but are key to rethinking solidarity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioethics, Law and Human Rights: Global Intersections)
Open AccessArticle
Querying the Call to Introduce Mental Capacity Testing to Mental Health Law: Does the Doctrine of Necessity Provide an Alternative?
Laws 2015, 4(2), 245-271; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020245 - 08 Jun 2015
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3454
Abstract
Trends in international human rights law have challenged States globally to rethink involuntary mental health interventions from a non-discrimination perspective. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in particular prohibits laws that discriminate on the basis of disability. [...] Read more.
Trends in international human rights law have challenged States globally to rethink involuntary mental health interventions from a non-discrimination perspective. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in particular prohibits laws that discriminate on the basis of disability. However, a key criterion for compulsory mental health treatment under typical mental health legislation is a psychiatric diagnosis (in conjunction with risk of harm and other criteria). Hence, for people with mental health disabilities, rights to liberty and consent in healthcare are held to a different standard compared to other citizens. A prominent law reform option being explored by some governments and commentators for achieving non-discrimination is to replace the diagnostic criterion for triggering involuntary intervention with an assessment of mental capacity. After all, every citizen is subject to restrictions on autonomy where they are deemed to lack mental capacity, such as where concussion necessitates emergency service. However, the use of mental capacity “testing” is seen by diverse commentators as wanting in key respects. A prominent criticism comes from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which considers mental capacity assessments a form of disability-based discrimination. This article queries the call to replace the diagnostic criterion in mental health law with an assessment of mental capacity in the light of jurisprudence on equality and non-discrimination in international human rights law. Instead, we examine the doctrine of necessity as an area of law, which might help identify specific thresholds for overriding autonomy in emergency circumstances that can be codified in a non-discriminatory way. We also consider the need for deliberative law reform processes to identify such measures, and we suggest interim, short-term measures for creating a “supported decision-making regime” in the mental health context. The article focuses in particular on the Australian context of mental health law reform, though the analysis can be generalised to international trends in mental health law. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Conceptual and Ethical Problems in the Mental Capacity Act 2005: An Interrogation of the Assessment Process
Laws 2015, 4(2), 229-244; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020229 - 05 Jun 2015
Viewed by 2577
Abstract
Central to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) is the claim that a conferral of incapacity may not be based on the wisdom of a decision alone. This paper problematizes this position. Values-based medicine is drawn on to explore the process of capacity [...] Read more.
Central to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) is the claim that a conferral of incapacity may not be based on the wisdom of a decision alone. This paper problematizes this position. Values-based medicine is drawn on to explore the process of capacity assessment, highlighting the presence of preconceptions throughout assessment. Two cases before the Court of Protection are examined to bring into focus the complexity of conducting assessment without reference to wisdom. The paper proposes that every stage in the assessment of capacity is undertaken with reference to preconceptions and that an acknowledgement of these, along with transparency about when they are to be employed, would allow for greater clarity about what the MCA demands of practitioners. Full article
Open AccessArticle
House Demolitions
Laws 2015, 4(2), 216-228; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020216 - 29 May 2015
Viewed by 2274
Abstract
This article discusses the nature of “house demolitions” as used by the State of Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In our opinion, and in contrast to the view of Israel’s Supreme Court, such demolition orders constitute a penal sanction. As [...] Read more.
This article discusses the nature of “house demolitions” as used by the State of Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In our opinion, and in contrast to the view of Israel’s Supreme Court, such demolition orders constitute a penal sanction. As a penal sanction, we argue that this measure violates the basic principles of criminal liability. Even if this conclusion is not accepted, it will be argued that making innocent people homeless is an illegal collective measure. Even if assuming arguendo that it is not an illegal collective measure, it violates the basic principle of personal responsibility. The general conclusion of the article is that the examination of the nature of sanctions should go beyond the labels that are attached to them. Labeling sanctions as either penal or civil may not always reflect its true nature, and labels are sometimes deliberately used or rather misused in order to escape from the requirements stemming from the true essence of a sanction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rough Justice: Penal Sanctions, Human Dignity, and Human Rights)
Open AccessArticle
Physician Charity Care in America: Almost Always an Illusion, Ever More Commercial
Laws 2015, 4(2), 201-215; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020201 - 26 May 2015
Viewed by 2158
Abstract
The first Code of Medical Ethics promulgated by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847 included a provision that essentially obligated physicians to care for those in their communities who could not afford to pay for professional services. The spirit of that provision [...] Read more.
The first Code of Medical Ethics promulgated by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847 included a provision that essentially obligated physicians to care for those in their communities who could not afford to pay for professional services. The spirit of that provision remains embodied in today’s Code. However, a “charity care” ethical obligation may not make as much professional sense as it once did. Health care institutions have assumed a much greater role in providing charity care and many physicians are now under legal and quasi-legal obligations to provide care in some cases. Under the recently enacted Affordable Care Act (ACA)—if fully implemented—it is theorized that as many as 95% of Americans will be covered by some basic insurance plan. Perhaps today’s physicians should tailor the charity care mandate into a new jacket, which envisions that all doctors share equally in the care for those without adequate means. An individual obligation may have to make way for a more communal one in professional codes. Moreover, it may be wise to consider if there are any lessons to draw from other health care systems (e.g., the Dutch), where questions about charity care still exist within a universal health care system context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioethics, Law and Human Rights: Global Intersections)
Open AccessArticle
Should Supported Decision-Making Replace Substituted Decision-Making? The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Coercive Treatment under Queensland’s Mental Health Act 2000
Laws 2015, 4(2), 173-200; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020173 - 25 May 2015
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2467
Abstract
In 2013, and again in 2014, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has recommended that Australia abolish its existing mental health laws which authorise involuntary treatment and detention, and replace them with a regime of supported decision-making. The [...] Read more.
In 2013, and again in 2014, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has recommended that Australia abolish its existing mental health laws which authorise involuntary treatment and detention, and replace them with a regime of supported decision-making. The Australian Law Reform Commission has also recommended the introduction of supported decision-making to replace mental health and guardianship laws. This paper critically evaluates the concepts of autonomy and discrimination and the social model of disability which provide the theoretical underpinning of the CRPD. Focussing on coercive treatment of adults with severe mental illness under Queensland’s Mental Health Act 2000, it then evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of supported decision-making, and concludes that the proposed abolition of involuntary treatment laws is not justified. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Decision Making Capacity in Older Individuals: Does the Law Give a Clue?
Laws 2015, 4(2), 164-172; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020164 - 22 May 2015
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2442
Abstract
Adequate cognitive and emotional capacity is essential to autonomous decision making by adult medical patients. Society often attaches legal consequences to decisional capacity evaluations. Even when the legal system is not formally involved in the competency evaluation of a particular individual, clinical practice [...] Read more.
Adequate cognitive and emotional capacity is essential to autonomous decision making by adult medical patients. Society often attaches legal consequences to decisional capacity evaluations. Even when the legal system is not formally involved in the competency evaluation of a particular individual, clinical practice and ethical conduct occur within and are informed by legal parameters. Using relevant statutory, court rule, and judicial opinion examples from a representative jurisdiction within the United States, this article argues that the law seldom provides much meaningful guidance to health care and human services providers to assist them regarding the content of capacity evaluation. The article concludes by asking how society ought to respond to the paucity of helpful guidance provided by the law in the decisional capacity evaluation context. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Why Workers’ Rights Are Not Women’s Rights
Laws 2015, 4(2), 139-163; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020139 - 30 Apr 2015
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2572
Abstract
“Why workers’ rights are not women’s rights” is an argument whose purpose is to make clear why workers’ rights rest on a masculine embodiment of the labor subject and it is this masculine embodiment which is at the center of employment contracts and [...] Read more.
“Why workers’ rights are not women’s rights” is an argument whose purpose is to make clear why workers’ rights rest on a masculine embodiment of the labor subject and it is this masculine embodiment which is at the center of employment contracts and employment relations systems. By excavating the gender subjects implicit to and explicit in regulations of labor, the paper reveals the opposition of paired terms, masculinity and femininity privileging production over reproduction and naturalizing gender-based power relations. The paper identifies various laboring activities associated with differential rights and responsibilities. An examination of the treatment of part-time employment and waged caring labor, framed in labor, welfare, immigration, and citizenship policies and practices, locates exclusions from labor standards and exemptions from entitlements due to eligibility requirements and thresholds that assume the masculine embodiment of the worker-citizen. Gendering the analysis illustrates how contemporary labor laws and conventions grant rights on the basis of, and to, a rather abstract conception of the prototypical worker-citizen. Its origins lie in what classical political economy labeled a capitalist logic, as well as the historical practices in which free class agents entered into contracts for continuous, full-time work free of care responsibilities outside of the wage/labor nexus. Thus, it is this particular abstract construction of the proto-typical worker which instantiates the separation of “rights to” from “responsibilities for”, and it is this separation that allows the masculine embodiment of the labor subject. Modes of regulation privileging rights over responsibilities will valorize the masculine worker-citizen whose rights derive from their participation in wage labor and simultaneously devalue the feminine worker who is directly connected to caring labor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Law - Engendering Equality)
Open AccessArticle
Decision-Making, Legal Capacity and Neuroscience: Implications for Mental Health Laws
Laws 2015, 4(2), 125-138; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws4020125 - 27 Apr 2015
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3463
Abstract
Neuroscientific endeavours to uncover the causes of severe mental impairments may be viewed as supporting arguments for capacity-based mental health laws that enable compulsory detention and treatment. This article explores the tensions between clinical, human rights and legal concepts of “capacity”. It is [...] Read more.
Neuroscientific endeavours to uncover the causes of severe mental impairments may be viewed as supporting arguments for capacity-based mental health laws that enable compulsory detention and treatment. This article explores the tensions between clinical, human rights and legal concepts of “capacity”. It is argued that capacity-based mental health laws, rather than providing a progressive approach to law reform, may simply reinforce presumptions that those with mental impairments completely lack decision-making capacity and thereby should not be afforded legal capacity. A better approach may be to shift the current focus on notions of capacity to socio-economic obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Full article
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