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Unit 20 Death and the Law. I Legal Views of Suicide - have varied widely – historically and culturally - Asian societies – haven’t condemned, but even.

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Presentation on theme: "Unit 20 Death and the Law. I Legal Views of Suicide - have varied widely – historically and culturally - Asian societies – haven’t condemned, but even."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unit 20 Death and the Law

2 I Legal Views of Suicide - have varied widely – historically and culturally - Asian societies – haven’t condemned, but even awarded suicide (Japan – hara-kiri; India – suttee) - Judaism – forbids self-destruction - Islam – a clear scriptural ban on suicide - Early Christians – ambivalent about suicide (founded on martyrdom, but virgins who preferred suicide to dishonour were celebrated) - Christians of the 5th century – suicide – a mortal sin, suicides were denied Christian burial; Church law influenced civil law - ancient Athens – suicides denied a normal burial; buried alone on the outskirts of the city without a headstone or marker - under Louis XIV – the dead person’s body was drawn through the streets, face down, and then hung or thrown on a garbage heap

3 Suicide under English Law  SUICIDE (the intentional taking of one's own life)  1300s English Common Law made suicide a criminal act (FELONY) - punished by forfeiture of all the goods and chattels of the offender.  English Common Law distinguished a suicide committed by an unsound mind from an “evil doer against himself”, who had coolly decided to end (an infamous crime) – entire estate forfeited to the crown; ignominious burial - corpse dragged through the streets and hung from the gallows, and finally buried beneath a crossroad with a stake driven through the body – served as a deterrent  by the 17th century – a suicide forfeited only personal property; heirs could get his real estate  until 1879 did not distinguish between suicide and homicide  Suicide Act 1961 – suicide ceased to be an offence; assisting others to kill themselves remains illegal

4 Suicide under US Law  never punished as a crime  never penalized by property forfeiture or ignominious burial  listed as a felony in many states, but never enforced  by 1963 – six states considered attempted suicide a crime

5 II History of Abortion Law in the UK - 13th Century - the first references to abortion in English law appeared in the law; followed Church teaching that abortion was acceptable until 'quickening‘ ( when the soul entered the foetus) - remained like this for centuries - Abortion Act permits termination of pregnancy by a registered practitioner

6 III Capital Punishment in the UK  5th century – hanging by neck introduced to England ny the Anglo-Saxon invaders (by 10th century – a common method of execution)  18th century “Bloody Code” – 220 different crimes punishable by death (executions for murder, burglary and robbery were common; death sentences for minor offenders were often not carried out)  1908 – Children’s Charter – juveniles under 16 no longer could be executed  1938 – the issue of abolition of capital punishment was brought before parliament

7 Capital Punishment in the UK  1969 – abolition of Capital punishment for murder ; remained for certain other offences until 1998  1998 – complete abolition (when ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting capital punishment) (prior to it – available for 6 offences 1) serious misconduct in action 2) assisting the enemy 3) obstructing operations 4) giving false air signals 5) mutiny or incitement to mutiny 6) failure to suppress a mutiny in intent to assist the enemy  The last execution took place in 1964 (by hanging)

8 Capital Punishment in the USA  a hotly debated topic – reaches constitutional dimensions  the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – constitutional basis against the imposition of the death penalty  1998 – approximately 3000 prisoners were awaiting execution  the majority of the U.S. population favours the abolition of the death penalty state and federal legislatures have done little to change current legislation

9 Capital Punishment in the USA  1998 – 38 out of 50 American states have death penalty (Amnesty International’s report)  exists under federal law  1998 – approximately 3000 prisoners were awaiting execution  the majority of the U.S. population favours the abolition of the death penalty state and federal legislatures have done little to change current legislation

10 IV Euthanasia EUTHANASIA = “good death” or “dying well”  The practice of ending a life in a painless manner; describes a number of different methods  Some forms are legal in: Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Oregon (US), Andalusia (Spain) and Thailand  serious moral issues attached to it – characterized as murderous and merciless

11 Classification of Euthanasia I By consent A) Voluntary euthanasia B) Involuntary euthanasia – an individual makes a decision for another person incapable of doing so II By means A) Passive (non-aggressive) – withholding of common treatment (antibiotics, surgery) to relieve pain knowing that it may also result in death (the most accepted form and a common practice in hospitals) B)Aggressive euthanasia – (use of lethal substance or forces to kill )

12 Essential expressions  to be charged with (murder / criminal offence...)  the law on abortion / capital punishment has changed  to take one’s own stand  to execute a murderer (execution)  the pressure for the aboliton of hanging  to have influence on public attitudes / person’s behaviour  at the trial  to commit murder / suicide / crime

13 Essential expressions II  a free / liberal attitude towards  put something before something else  see things in black and white  the supporters of  suffer from diminished responsibility  to preserve human life  to get away with something

14 Vocabulary practice Fill in the gaps. 1. The act of bringing into effect a judgement of death penalty is _________________. 2. _____________ is the action of destroying a human foetus prematurely. 3. Cases of terminal diseases often raise the question of _______________. 4. The understanding of psychiatric conditions of a murder influences the attitude towards_________________. 5. __________ __________ is the state of human mind, which makes a person not accountable for his or her actions.

15 Vocabulary practice – Answer key 1. The act of bringing into effect a judgement of death penalty is execution. 2. Abortion is the action of destroying a human foetus prematurely. 3. Cases of terminal diseases often raise the question of euthanasia. 4. The understanding of psychiatric conditions of a murder influences the attitude towards the punishment he should get.. 5. Diminished responsibility is the state of human mind, which makes a person not accountable for his or her actions.


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