Privacy - The Body

Course Status: 
Restricted Elective
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Academic year: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
26 Mar 2012 - 3 May 2012
Co-hosting Unit(s) [if applicable]: 
Department of Legal Studies
Renáta Uitz

Constitutional privacy protection reaches beyond means shielding the home and private correspondence from uninvited governmental intrusion and surveillance. The course explores matters relegated to this penumbra: the most personal and private human decisions about one's bodily integrity, decisions which are commonly associated with the protection of individual self-determination (private autonomy). Issues covered include questions in human reproduction (including contraception, abortion, selective abortions and surrogate motherhood), transformations of the human body (including female genital cutting), and acceptance and refusal of medical treatment (including consent to life sustaining medical treatments and problems of assisted suicide). Note that problems in the field of sexuality and human rights are covered by a separate course in Module 6 on Identity, Gender and Human Rights (E. Polgári - R. Uitz).

In such private decisions constitutional and human rights lawyers all the more often encounter the frontiers of their craft. It is easy to see that many of the problems addressed arise in a medical(ized) setting. One also gets to sense the fine line between the public and the private sphere in a modern state which aspires to or -sometimes-refuses to care about its citizens. The final glaze to the debate is applied when reservations about universalism and objections on the grounds of cultural relativism enter the scene.

Via a comparative analysis of relevant jurisprudence the course challenges all participants to consider the extent to which claims associated with the protection of bodily privacy can be addressed within a constitutional or human rights discourse, relying on the language of rights before courts of law. The course aims to supply students with a sound reading of leading cases and existing regulatory frameworks, and then reply on this sound foundation to inspire students to develop novel strategies and routes of regulation.

Assessment is based on short written assignments, in-class advocacy and group projects, and a short individual research essay on a topic of the students' choice.