Choose one from the following two essay titles. The essay word length is 4000 words. The essay is worth 100% of your mark in this module.
1. English medical law faces many ethically controversial future directions for reform. Choosing a maximum of two from these below, critically evaluate whether you think English medical law should be reformed to:
• Restrict the grounds on which abortion is legally permissible.
• Give more respect to the autonomy of young people under the age of 18 to refuse potentially lifesaving medical treatment.
• Limit the grounds on which vulnerable individuals can take part in biomedical research.
• Make it harder for adult patients with mental capacity to refuse potentially lifesaving medical treatment.
• Permit people with serious mental health problems to create ‘Ulysses arrangements’ to apply to their future mental health treatment.
• Allow the option of physician assisted suicide for people in the advanced stages of terminal illness.
• Limit the binding effect of an advance decision at the time it is intended to apply.
Guidance notes for essay title 1:
This essay title requires you to offer your own reasoned argument as to whether or not English medical law should pursue one or possibly two of these potential directions for reform. By “critically evaluate whether you think …”, this essay title means whether you consider the direction for reform to be ethically justifiable. You should consider the question of ethical justifiability in terms of the ethical insights considered on the module that you find most compelling. These insights derive from medical ethics principles such as (but not limited to) patient autonomy, sanctity of life, medical paternalism, human dignity, vulnerability, etc. as appropriate to the question as well as from ethical theories such as rights theory, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, etc. that we have considered in the module.
To write a successful essay, you will need to devote sufficient space to carefully justifying why English law should or should not pursue the direction for reform you have chosen to discuss in your essay. This will also require some detailed engagement with counter-positions/counter-arguments. Your essay should advance a clear, reasoned and well-structured argument which supports your viewpoint. The introduction to the essay should specify clearly which potential areas for reform from this list you will be discussing, though it is not necessary to justify this choice.
For the avoidance of doubt, choosing to discuss one or two of these potential aims will make no difference in itself to the mark received. If you choose two, it is open to you to argue that one direction for reform should be pursued but not the other– or, alternatively, that both should be pursued or both not pursued. If you choose to discuss two areas for reform, these can be discussed separately within the essay (e.g. under two different sub headings), although it may deepen the analysis and evaluation if any obvious inter-relationships are considered between aspects of the ethical debate surrounding the two areas you have selected (e.g. those surrounding patient autonomy). However, it would be advisable for you to only focus on one rather than two of these directions for reform if you consider that the second would receive limited consideration in your essay.