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Those individuals who act autonomously base their actions on their own values and plans.
The right to act autonomously finds support and protection in both U. law and basic principles of Western bioethics, and is manifest in Justice Benjamin Cardozo’s statement that “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent commits an assault, for which he is liable.” It is important to note that Justice Cardozo did not comment on the quality of the decision itself—that is, whether it is a “good” decision or a “bad” decision—but on the individual’s right to make it for him or herself.
This section looks at the ethical and philosophical rationales that both sides in the helmet debate offer to support their positions.
Autonomy is generally understood to mean the freedom and ability to be self-governing or to make personal decisions without undue influence or interference from others.
In West Virginia, a predictable annual tradition occurs as the legislature wraps up its session: the state trauma providers receive an e-mail from the their state representatives and senators asking that we weigh in on whether to continue or repeal the state’s mandatory helmet law.
As medical professionals, surgeons need to play a role in public policy decisions that relate to health care, including the debate over helmet laws.
West Virginia certainly has not been alone in considering whether to overturn its helmet legislation.
Since the first universal helmet laws were enacted in 1967, 31 states have repealed their related laws, most recently Michigan in 2012.
The risk of morbidity and mortality of helmetless motorcycle riding provides persuasive evidence for helmet use, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data concerning the cost to the general public provides support for mandatory helmet laws. “In 2010, approximately billion was saved as a result of helmet use in the U.Similarly, when universal laws were repealed in favor of partial laws, Florida saw its compliance drop from 99 percent to 53 percent, and in Louisiana compliance went from 100 percent down to 52 percent.Furthermore, the NHTSA found that in states with laws requiring only minors to wear helmets, less than 40 percent of underage riders who were fatally injured wore a helmet, indicating that despite a law requiring helmet use it is difficult to determine whether a rider is underage, thereby hampering enforcement.If the study’s findings are sound and replicable, they may provide a compelling counterargument to the unfair societal burden justice claim that is so often used to support mandatory helmet laws.
For patients on donor recipient waiting lists, there would be decreased wait times, decreased emotional and physical suffering for recipients and their loved ones, and decreased use of expensive life-sustaining technologies and health care resources over time.
This type of “my body, my choice” language, which is recognized and protected in the law, is most commonly associated with the abortion debate, and is not dissimilar to the arguments put forth by those who support efforts to repeal mandatory motorcycle helmet laws.