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date: 18 June 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the relationship between respect for individual autonomy and the law governing end-of-life treatment in the United States. It begins with a review of the law governing treatment decision-making for competent adults, incompetent adults, and children. It then turns to the issue of determining death. After that, the article discusses the limitations of the autonomy-based approach in addressing three areas of end-of-life law: “futile” treatment disputes, treatment decisions for incompetent patients, and access to physician-assisted death. It concludes that courts and other legal decision-makers will face pressure to consider the proper role of quality of life, cost, medical judgment, and patient vulnerability in determining end-of-life law.

Keywords: autonomy, law, end-of-life treatment, United States, children, competent adults, incompetent adults, death, futile treatment disputes, physician-assisted death

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