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Equality and Liberty in the Golden Age of State Constitutional Law$
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Jeffrey M. Shaman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195334340

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334340.001.0001

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The Right of Bodily Integrity

The Right of Bodily Integrity

Chapter:
(p.229) 8 The Right of Bodily Integrity
Source:
Equality and Liberty in the Golden Age of State Constitutional Law
Author(s):

Jeffrey M. Shaman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334340.003.0008

The common law recognized the right of an individual to refuse medical treatment, even life-sustaining medical treatment. Some state courts have incorporated the right to refuse medical treatment as an aspect of the constitutional right of privacy. The courts, however, have drawn the line at physician-assisted suicide, refusing to accept it as part of the constitutional right of privacy. Some of the earliest cases recognizing a right of individual autonomy concerned the right of a person to ingest food, beverages, or other substances. These early cases, though, were an exception to the prevailing rule that individual liberty could be regulated in any way necessary to promote the general welfare. In 1975, the Supreme Court of Alaska ruled that there was a constitutional right to smoke marijuana in one's home. Other states have declined to follow this ruling and refused to countenance a right to smoke marijuana, even for medicinal purposes.

Keywords:   right to refuse medical treatment, right to die, right to ingest food or beverages, right to smoke marijuana

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