Evaluating the right to autonomy argument in the debate on coercive antenatal HIV testing in South Africa

mpho selemogo


In advancing the case favoring routine HIV testing in South Africa, this paper examines this autonomy argument (often advanced against routine HIV testing) and argues for the conclusion that this argument is problematic particularly when seen against a background context of a public health intervention, the presence of other competing moral interests and a context of a communitarian society. The analysis focuses on three aspects of the argument: (a) its inadequate attention to other moral considerations at play in the moral dilemma (which relates to its apparent conception of autonomy as supreme among other ethical principles) (b) its emphasis on a more individualistic conception of the autonomous self (c) emphasis on the right to autonomy with little or no consideration on the content of the decision being made.

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PMTCT, autonomy rights, HIV

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2010;3(2):63.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-06-20
Date published: 2010-12-15

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