Benedetta Barbisan

Paradoxes and Fictions of the 'Right to Die' in United States Jurisprudence Beginning from the Quinlan Case

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The author tackles the question of what a claim such as that of the 'right to die' means for our time, for the sense that we give to our communities and to the individual who lives there. The first case, Quinlan, decided by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the mid-1970s, occurred at the time when the first transplants were being performed and when the concept of death was in the process of being redefined, as was that of informed consent. Deciding how and when to die gives rise to host of paradoxes and a consequent corollary of legal fictions, revealing the relationship that binds the individual to the community where he (or she) lives, what remains of public responsibility before the frailty of individuals and their loved ones, and the autonomy of the individual that assumes the full selfdetermination of the person involved but also, at times, the painful solitude of the same.

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