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The Criminal Justice System and Health Care$
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Charles A. Erin and Suzanne Ost

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228294

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228294.001.0001

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Euthanasia and the Defence of Necessity: Advocating a More Appropriate Legal Response *

Euthanasia and the Defence of Necessity: Advocating a More Appropriate Legal Response *

Chapter:
(p.99) 6 Euthanasia and the Defence of Necessity: Advocating a More Appropriate Legal Response*
Source:
The Criminal Justice System and Health Care
Author(s):

Suzanne Ost

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228294.003.0006

This chapter addresses the question of whether the defence of necessity could and should be utilised in cases of euthanasia in the medical context. It challenges the application of the doctrine of double effect as a means of ascertaining the physician's primary intent and argues instead that the law should recognise that the physician faces a situation of necessity. It asserts that given the potential availability of the defence of diminished responsibility to a relative or spouse who carries out a mercy killing, not allowing the physician to utilise the defence of necessity may place him at greater risk of conviction for murder than the layperson.

Keywords:   double effect, diminished responsibility, mercy killing, murder, criminal law

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