The obligation of therapy

Current scientific knowledge is able to predict many behaviors that put individuals' health at risk

Botero, Medellin (Colombia). Ph: Julianza (Pixabay)

In Western societies there are many obligations, encoded by a system of laws. Some of these obligations affect the personal sphere of individuals.

The most invasive obligation is that which concerns the interference with people’s health. For example, mandatory vaccinations that provide for the one-off administration of a drug that protects indefinitely from a certain pathogen recognized as highly dangerous for the individual.

The only other obligation in the health field provided for by the legislation is that of the “Involuntary treatment”, a health treatment imposed on those who are considered dangerous for having put in place harmful behavior towards themselves or others. Involuntary treatment implies the presence of a doctor who – together with the judicial authority – ascertains the need for this treatment.

Current scientific knowledge is able to predict many behaviors that endanger the health of individuals, starting with cigarette smoking, alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex, improper nutrition, lack of physical activity. All of these are proven causes of even fatal pathologies.

Wanting to protect the population from every known cause of death, it could be considered necessary to dictate constant monitoring on everyone, to prevent any type of substance intake or activation of potentially harmful behaviors to health. 

Not only. If it should occur that periodic intake of a certain drug reduces the possibility of developing a certain disease, it may be necessary to impose it on the entire population. 

Where is the limit between what is lawful to leave to the freedom of the individual, and what should be imposed by the authority of the State? On the basis of what parameters should these decisions be made?

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