Human autonomy and freedom

Universal human rights must be upheld at all times – even in times of crisis. This means, among other things: the right to a dignified existence; the right to freedom of expression; bodily integrity; good health care; and the right to peaceful association and assembly.

With regard to medical treatment, Article 5 of the Oviedo Convention applies. It states that no medical treatment can be used without the consent of the person in question, that consent only being able to be given if that person has freedom of thought and has been fully informed about the treatment, the alternatives and the side-effects. 

For individuals, this also means taking responsibility for listening to the body and the mind, making decisions that take their fellow human beings into account and therefore, for example, staying at home if they become ill.

Autonomy also means that any patient can refuse treatment – whether this concerns a vaccination, artificial respiration, resuscitation, radiation treatment, blood transfusion, a life-prolonging operation or something else. It is important that this refusal be included in the patient’s electronic file. There should be few practical hurdles to making these important choices. In line with the Natural Humanist principles described above, the refusal to prolong suffering through technology must be respected as a matter of principle.