This is a project in moral and legal philosophy examining the extent to which English law on consent sufficiently protects morally salient patient interests.

The project focuses in particular on consent to neurointerventions that act directly on the brain and alter some aspect of brain function, for example, deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation. These interventions can be used to clarify how different patient interests are protected (or not) by the law on consent.

Publications

  • L Forsberg and T Douglas, 'Anti-libidinal interventions in sex offenders: medical or correctional?' (2016) Medical Law Review
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/medlaw/fww003
    Sex offenders are sometimes offered or required to undergo pharmacological interventions intended to diminish their sex drive (anti-libidinal interventions or ALIs). In this paper, we argue that much of the debate regarding the moral permissibility of ALIs has been founded on an inaccurate assumption regarding their intended purpose—namely, that ALIs are intended solely to realise medical purposes, not correctional goals. This assumption has made it plausible to assert that ALIs may only permissibly be administered to offenders with their valid consent, in line with the approach taken to most other interventions with a medical aim. However, we argue that, contrary to this assumption, the state's intention in relation to at least some ALIs is, at least in part, to achieve correctional objectives. We evaluate two legal regimes for ALI provision—section 645 of the California Penal Code and the mental health regime in England and Wales. In each case, we identify the state's implicit purpose in imposing ALIs and argue that the Californian and English regimes both serve as counterexamples to the view that ALIs are intended solely for medical purposes. While the moral implications of our argument are not straightforward, it raises the question whether consent is required for permissible imposition of ALIs, and more generally, whether the moral permissibility of crime-preventing interventions using medical means should be assessed against the standards of medical ethics or against those of criminal justice ethics.
  • L Forsberg, 'Childbirth, consent, and information about options and risks' in Jonathan Herring, Camilla Pickles (ed), Childbirth, Vulnerability and Law: Exploring Issues of Violence and Control (Routledge 2019)
  • T Douglas, L Forsberg and J Pugh, 'Compulsory medical intervention versus external constraint in pandemic control' (2020) Journal of Medical Ethics
    DOI: 10.1136/ medethics-2020-106435
    Would compulsory treatment or vaccination for COVID-19 be justified? In England, there would be significant legal barriers to it. However, we offer a conditional ethical argument in favour of allowing compulsory treatment and vaccination, drawing on an ethical comparison with external constraints—such as quarantine, isolation and ’lockdown’—that have already been authorised to control the pandemic in this jurisdiction. We argue that, if the permissive English approach to external constraints for COVID-19 has been justified, then there is a case for a similarly permissive approach to compulsory medical interventions.
  • A Skelton and L Forsberg, 'Mandating Vaccination' in Meredith Celene Schwartz (ed), The Ethics of Pandemics (Broadview Press 2020)
  • L Forsberg, 'Anti-libidinal interventions and human rights' (2021) Human Rights Law Review
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/hrlr/ngab001
    Anti-libidinal interventions (ALIs) are used in several jurisdictions to reduce male sex offenders’ libido. One common objection to these interventions holds that when offenders are either required to undergo them or offered to undergo them as an alternative to continued incarceration, ALIs violate recipients’ human rights. In this article, I examine this objection, which I call the human rights objection to ALIs, in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Specifically, I examine the objection to ALIs in relation to Articles 3, 8 and 12 ECHR, which are the rights proponents of the human rights objection have identified as most relevant. I argue that the human rights objection in its current form fails to establish that ALIs violate recipients’ ECHR rights in respect of all these Articles.
  • A Skelton, L Forsberg and I Black, 'Overriding Adolescent Refusals of Treatment' (2021) Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy (forthcoming)

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