Bodily Autonomy: US Court Cases
Are you sovereign over your own body? Here are the cases where government has become involved in that question through US history.
The history of legal torts has long recognized the physical security of one’s body. It is referred to in the 39th Article of the Magna Carta. The English jurist Sir William Blackstone, writing in 1753, identified “the right of personal security” to include life, limb, health and reputation. He identified personal security as one of the three elements of “liberty,” with the other two elements being personal liberty and private property.
The history of US judicial recognition of medical freedom has often hinged on individuals’ right to refuse unwanted medical intervention, whether examination or testing or treatments.