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Unpublished Paper
Over My Dead Body: The Right to Posthumous Bodily Integrity and Implications of Whose Right it is
ExpressO (2011)
  • Hilary Young
Abstract

This article examines laws that allow people to decide what will happen to their bodies after death, referred to as laws protecting posthumous bodily integrity. It asks whose rights they intend to protect: the rights-holders could consist only of living individuals whose bodies will become the corpses at issue or could include the dead themselves. Whether rights to posthumous bodily integrity belong only to the living or survive death leads to three types of insight. First, the reasons for protecting posthumous bodily integrity are different depending on who the rights-bearers are. Second, to the extent that some laws are more consistent with an approach that views the dead as rights-holders versus only the living (or vice versa), this may help elucidate why we protect posthumous bodily integrity. Third, if one has an opinion about whether the dead are capable of having rights, this has implications for how one thinks laws protecting posthumous bodily integrity should be structured. For example, the article proposes a revision to anatomical gift legislation that is more easily justified than current legislation if one views the dead as incapable of having rights.

Keywords
  • death and the law,
  • posthumous bodily integrity,
  • organ donation,
  • cadaver display
Disciplines
Publication Date
August 22, 2011
Citation Information
Hilary Young. "Over My Dead Body: The Right to Posthumous Bodily Integrity and Implications of Whose Right it is" ExpressO (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hilary_young/1/