NUI Galway Conference on the Right to Consent or Refuse Medical Treatment

Jan 05 2017 Posted: 11:17 GMT

NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy will hold a seminar entitled ‘Consent and Refusal: Mental Health, Human Rights and the Law’ on 11 January 2017. The event is part of the research project ‘The Voices of Individuals: Collectively Exploring Self-determination’ (VOICES) and takes place in the University’s Institute for Lifecourse and Society.  

This seminar will explore how human rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can be used to guarantee the right to consent to, and refuse, medical treatment – with a focus on lived experience in the mental health system.

“We all take for granted that our refusal of medical treatment will be respected – but the lived experience of people with disabilities and many in the mental health system demonstrates that this is not always the case”, explains Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Principal Investigator on the VOICES Project and Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. “For example, the medical system might respect the decision of a cancer patient to refuse chemotherapy, but deny the right of an individual who wants to refuse electro-convulsive therapy.”

Dr Flynn added: “The speakers at the event come from a wide range of countries including Kenya, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Colombia, China, India, Sweden, the US and the UK. They have a diverse range of experience – as lawyers, researchers, advocates and activists, with personal and professional experience of consent to treatment and how this impacts people with disabilities and people with experience of the mental health system.”

The seminar should be of interest to students, researchers, people with disabilities, people with experience of the mental health system, family members, and practitioners in the fields of law, health and social care.

The VOICES project is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, awarded to Dr Flynn, the youngest person to ever receive such an award. Its purpose is to look at how people with disabilities are treated by the legal system when they want to make their own decisions – known as ‘legal capacity’.

“Legal capacity means being recognised as a decision-maker by the law and making decisions that the law requires other people to respect. VOICES involves a series of workshops and conferences, bringing together people with disabilities and people who write about how law and policy affects people with disabilities. At the end of the project we will publish a book with people’s stories and ideas about how the law should change”, said Dr Flynn.

Further information is available at or email Clíona on or 091 494272. Participant accessibility requests and enquiries are welcomed.


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