Re herrington: Aboriginality and the quality of human rights jurisprudence in end-of-life decisions by the australian judiciary

Abstract

In Re Herrington [2007] VSC 151 (King’s Case) the partner and family of an Aboriginal woman (diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state after an accident) sought an order from the Victorian Supreme Court that the decision of her treating doctors to withhold further medical treatment be opposed. The resultant judicial decision contains a very brief review of the now considerable case law in this area, does not mention the increasingly important role of clinical ethics committees in this context, or discuss the relevance of recently passed human rights legislation in Victoria. Given the statutory requirement for judicial reference to international human rights norms in jurisdictions such as Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory and their increasing importance in other developed nations, the authors highlight the need for the Australian judiciary to lift the quality of their jurisprudence in relation to end-of-life cases.

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