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Neither consenting nor protesting: an ethical analysis of a man with autism
  1. Kate Diesfeld
  1. University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent


    This article critically examines the 25 June 1998 decision by the House of Lords regarding the psychiatric admission of a man with autism.1 Mr L was able neither to consent to, nor refuse, that admission and the disposition of his case illuminates the current debate regarding best interests of vulnerable adults by the judiciary and the psychiatric profession. This article begins with the assumption that hospitalisation was not the optimum response to Mr L's condition, provides alternative approaches to the interpretation of best interest and examines principles of liberty, anti-discrimination, and equal protection.

    • Informal admission
    • autism
    • discrimination

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    • Kate Diesfeld, JD, is Lecturer and Legal Supervisor, Kent Law Clinic (Mental Health and Learning Disability) at Kent Law School, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent. Please forward communications to kdiesfeld{at}

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