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The State and the Body

Legal Regulation of Bodily Autonomy

By: Elizabeth Wicks
Media of The State and the Body
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Published: 15-12-2016
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 192
ISBN: 9781849467797
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £65.00
Online price : £58.50
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About The State and the Body

This book investigates the limits of the legitimate role of the state in regulating the human body. It questions whether there is a public interest in issues of bodily autonomy, with particular focus on reproductive choices, end of life choices, sexual autonomy, body modifications and selling the body. The main question addressed in this book is whether such autonomous choices about the human body are, and should be, subject to state regulation. Potential justifications for the state's intervention into these issues through mechanisms such as the criminal law and regulatory schemes are evaluated. These include preventing harm to others and/or to the individual involved, as well as more abstract concepts such as public morality, the sanctity of human life, and the protection of human dignity. The State and the Body argues that the state should be particularly wary about encroaching upon exercises of autonomy by embodied selves and concludes that only interventions based upon Mill's harm principle or, in tightly confined circumstances, the dignity of the human species as a whole should suffice to justify public intervention into private choices about the body.

Table Of Contents

1. Bodily Autonomy
I. Introduction: Why the Body Matters
II. Autonomy: Rights and Relations
III. The Body
IV. Conclusion
2. The Public-Private Distinction
I. Introduction
II. Different Meanings of Public and Private: Contexts, History and Rights
III. Feminist Critique of the Public-Private Distinction
IV. A Descriptive/Normative Spectrum
V. Defining the 'Private'
VI. Defining the 'Public'
VII. Conclusion
3. Reproductive Choices
I. Introduction
II. Reproduction, the Public-Private Distinction and the Right to Respect for Private Life
III. State Regulation of Reproduction in England and Wales
IV. Justification for State Regulation of Reproduction
V. Conclusion
4. Choices about Dying
I. Introduction
II. State Regulation of Dying in England and Wales
III. Justifications for the Regulation of Dying
IV. Conclusion
5. Sexual Autonomy
I. Introduction
II. Regulation of Sexual Autonomy
III. Public Morality and (Private) Sexual Autonomy
IV. Conclusion
6. Bodily Modification
I. Introduction
II. Cosmetic Surgery
III. Female Genital Mutilation
IV. Body Integrity Identity Disorder and the Amputation of Healthy Limbs
V. Gender Reassignment Surgery
VI. Paternalistic Restrictions on Body Modification
VII. Conclusion
7. Selling the Body
I. Introduction
II. Prostitution
III. Surrogacy
IV. Sale of Eggs or Organs
V. Preserving the Choice Paradigm
VI. Conclusion
8. Conclusion: Legitimate Justifications for Legal Regulation of Bodily Autonomy
I. Defining Bodily Autonomy
II. Embracing the Harm Principle
III. Rejecting Paternalism and Moralism
IV. Preserving the Dignity of the Human Species
V. Defending the Choice Paradigm
VI. Practical Recommendations to Enhance and Support Bodily Autonomy


“This is indeed a thought-provoking book that continues an important debate about the dichotomy of privacy and paternalism, autonomy and regulation, harm and protection and the body and the mind. This book is likely to appeal to legal scholars, philosophers and bioethicists alike. It is well written and easy to read with a logical flow to the arguments.” –  Rita D'Alton-Harrison, Royal Holloway, University of London, European Journal of Health Law

“[T]his book provides thought-provoking discussions on state intervention in bodily choices ... Her writing style is straightforward and easy to read, and she explains the legal background of each category of bodily choices that she discusses well. This book contains academic discussion from a range of sources, which makes it a good foundation for further research and discussion about state intervention into private choices about the body.” –  Lindsey Claire Hogg, Lancaster University, Medical Law Review

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