The government’s power over health care is strongest when health care treatments and precautions to protect the public welfare, such as quarantines and vaccinations, are at issue. Governmental power over health care decisions weakens when an individual’s health care decisions are in question. When health care decisions would only affect the individual making them, the government’s power is even less. This article argues that government agents must be cautious in making health care determinations for others and that they should aim to protect an individual’s right to self-determination so long as those choices do not pose a threat to the health and well-being of others.
Paul Jerome McLaughlin Jr. (2017) Can They Do That?: The Limits of Governmental Power over Medical Treatment, Journal of Legal Medicine, 37:3-4, 371-388, DOI: 10.1080/01947648.2017.1385039