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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

22 SEP 2011

Glass v United Kingdom: maternal instinct v medical opinion [2004] CFLQ 339

In Glass v United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights found that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950, respect for private and family life, where doctors had overridden a mother's wishes in their care of a disabled child. The case illustrates some of the complexities surrounding the concepts conventionally invoked by lawyers and ethicists, such as 'best interests', 'double effect' and 'futility'. It is argued that, while there is scope for greater precision and clarity, a choice will often still need to be made between the views of health professionals and the views of patients or their proxies. Particularly 'difficult' cases are therefore always likely to require some form of independent review.

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