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Religious Freedom in the Liberal State$
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Rex Ahdar and Ian Leigh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199606474

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606474.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 January 2022

Medical Treatment

Medical Treatment

(p.298) 9Medical Treatment
Religious Freedom in the Liberal State

Rex Ahdar

Ian Leigh

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines several medico-legal issues insofar as they have a religious dimension or implicate the religious liberty of the persons seeking or refusing treatment. The chapter is organized as follows. Section II summarizes the law concerning medical treatment, contrasting the position of adults, adolescents or teenagers, and infants. Section III considers the underlying assumptions represented in the disputes between the law and certain religionists who spurn conventional medical treatment in favour of exclusive reliance upon prayer or other spiritual cures. The premises which form the central tenets of conventional or orthodox medicine — reliance upon rationality, insistence upon the scientific method, the need for empirical evidence — have recently been challenged, not only by some devout religionists, but by also a raft of ‘alternative’ health practitioners. Section IV discusses two examples of these broader themes. The chapter concludes with some observations on the extent to which a liberal state accommodates the wishes of believers when they seek to determine their own or their children's health.

Keywords:   orthodox medicine, spiritual healing, consent, blood transfusion, alternative medicine, medical ethics, best interest test

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