On June 30, 1979, Georgette Malette was seriously injured in a traffic accident near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. … Malette was a Jehovah’s Witness. She was unconscious but carried a card which specified that she was not to receive blood transfusions under any circumstances. The doctor proceeded anyway, believing it to be his professional responsibility to administer the transfusions to save her life.
Malette eventually made a full recovery and sued the doctor for battery for administering transfusions without her consent. The Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that the doctor was liable even though his medical diagnosis was correct. Everyone has the freedom to make their own choices concerning their medical care, the Court said, “regardless of how unwise or foolish those choices may appear to others.” The doctor’s expertise was irrelevant because the question was not a medical one. No one may overrule your wishes even if they lead to your demise. In the common law, autonomy over your own body trumps survival.
Work on a COVID-19 vaccine is underway, … if one does emerge, the most pressing question will be whether vaccination should be mandatory. At a press conference on April 28, Prime Minister Trudeau refused to rule it out.