One of the fundamental facets of residual individual sovereignty is bodily autonomy, or sovereignty over one's own body, which took root in cases that considered the imposition of unwanted medical treatment as criminal battery or homicide. This gave rise to a distinct negligence tort in which medical care is provided despite the absence of the patient's fully informed consent. The informed consent doctrine has recently focused more on patient autonomy than beneficence. The notion of patient autonomy to make informed medical decisions is related to the concomitant autonomy to refuse recommended medical treatment once so informed. This chapter examines law and governmental power in relation to medical care, informed consent, forbidden treatments, liberty to refuse treatment, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia.
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