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Time as a dimension of medical law

By John Harrington


This paper considers the importance of temporal categories in medical law argumentation. Proceeding from a view of time as plural, rhetorical, and socially produced, it argues that decision making in areas such as the access of minors to contraception, abortion law, end of life care, and emergency caesarian sections can be usefully read as struggles over appropriate time frames. Judges, legislators, and commentators seek to establish the plausibility of a given legal development with reference to the common sense understanding of time which it embodies. Such understandings may be plausible because of their resonance with the diverse temporalities of the law itself. Alternatively, they may reproduce the temporal frames proper to medical science. Not only is time represented in medical law rhetoric, but deliberation in such cases is also subject to temporal pressures which may significantly affect their outcome. The paper concludes by considering the broader political stakes of intertemporal struggles in medical law

Topics: K Law (General)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1093/medlaw/fws009
OAI identifier: oai:
Provided by: ORCA
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