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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 17 No 2 (2000) Explorations on Law and Disability in Australia

Valuing People through Law: Whatever happened to Marion?

Melinda Jones and Lee Ann Basser Marks

The role of judicial decision-making in informing, reflecting and changing values in the community is examined through an assessment of the law governing medical treatment. The High Court decision in Marion's case leant support to the rights of people with disabilities to be included in the community and has assumed a symbolic importance for people with disabilities similar to that of the Mabo decision for indigenous people. Marion's case, which was concerned with the sterilisation of a young woman with an intellectual disability, is examined for its contribution to the jurisprudence relating to children's rights, competence, the rules of consent, bodily integrity and the promotion of rights over welfare. It is argued that despite the fact that subsequent judicial decisions and social practices have failed to give full effect to the promise of Marion's case, the articulation of the principle of inclusion by the High Court is of great significance.

(2000) 17(2) Law in Context 147
Keywords: Discrimination; Equality before the Law; Civil Liberties

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