This article explores how the law of England and Wales1 has responded thus far to medical and clinical advances that have enabled patients with prolonged disorders of consciousness to survive. The authors argue that, although the courts have taken account of much of the science, they are now lagging behind, with the result that some patients are being denied their legal rights under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The article further argues that English law does not comply with the United Kingdom’s commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Stressing the need for the law to keep in step with advances in science, the article concludes with robust recommendations for improvements, based on the latest research in neuroscience, to the way in which life-sustaining treatment decisions are made. This would mean that the wishes of patients, including those with covert awareness, can be better reflected in best interests assessments.
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DOI 10.1017/s0963180120000584
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Are There Levels of Consciousness?Tim Bayne, Jakob Hohwy & Adrian M. Owen - 2016 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20 (6):405-413.

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