Topic: Capacity and treatment: how law does and should law deal with the case of treatment refusals for Anorexia Nervosa?

Presenter: Sam Boyle - PhD Candidate, TC Beirne School of Law

Involuntary treatment for anorexia is a vexed issue for the law of capacity. Firstly, refusals of treatment are often seen as manifestations of the illness, meaning that anorexia sufferers may never be able to refuse treatment, a fact seen to be discriminatory. Secondly, powerful bioethical arguments have been put forward to say that while involuntary treatment may be appropriate in the early stages of anorexia, for long-term sufferers, who have had multiple unsuccessful treatments, involuntary treatment is no longer supportable. However, although such arguments are convincing of themselves, it has not been shown how such a position can fit within the law of capacity: the current legal mechanism by which it is decided whether a patient will be able to refuse treatment. This thesis aims to address this gap by approaching the problem from the other direction. It will begin with a critical analysis of capacity as a legal concept, and from there work towards a policy regarding involuntary treatment for anorexia, which is both ethically supportable, and legally coherent. 

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Claire Ritchie, ph: 336 57903, email:

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BEL Boardroom, GPN 3
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