Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 173–178 | Cite as

Legal Standards for Brain Death and Undue Influence in Euthanasia Laws

  • Thaddeus Mason Pope
  • Michaela E. Okninski
Recent Developments


A major appellate court decision from the United States seriously questions the legal sufficiency of prevailing medical criteria for the determination of death by neurological criteria. There may be a mismatch between legal and medical standards for brain death, requiring the amendment of either or both. In South Australia, a Bill seeks to establish a legal right for a defined category of persons suffering unbearably to request voluntary euthanasia. However, an essential criterion of a voluntary decision is that it is not tainted by undue influence, and this Bill falls short of providing adequate guidance to assess for undue influence.


Brain death Determination of death by neurological criteria End-of-life Life-sustaining treatment Uniform Determination of Death Act American Academy of Neurology Voluntary euthanasia Voluntariness Undue influence 


  1. Lu, A. 2010. End of life directions and self determination—H Ltd v J. Australian Health Law Bulletin 18(7): 93–108.Google Scholar
  2. White, B.P., L. Willmott, and M. Ashby. 2011. Palliative care, double effect and the law in Australia. Internal Medicine Journal 41(6): 485–492.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mitchell Hamline School of LawSaint PaulUSA
  2. 2.Law SchoolUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations