This article addresses the inherent and interdependent functions of human dignity and autonomy. It discusses their implications, concerning people who are not able to consent, and focuses on mentally ill people. One of the main causes of disability is mental disorder, which has a great impact on the fragility of human rights within this vulnerable group. Therefore, human dignity and autonomy will be analyzed from ethical and legal points of view. For mentally ill patients, the principles of human dignity and autonomy are very important in protecting, respecting, and fulfilling their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
For many years, the autonomy of patients with mental disorders was under continuous violation due to paternalism. The legal correlation between autonomy and informed consent for people with mental disorders during their medical treatment relationship according to the Biomedicine Convention, will be discussed. This article concludes that human dignity for people with mental disorders is a constant and unalterable intrinsic value which should be respected and protected. While autonomy for this vulnerable group might be limited for a certain period, depending on the gravity of the mental illness, this should not interfere with respecting human dignity.

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Medicine and Law: an international journal
Erasmus School of Economics

Zenelaj, B. (2018). Human dignity, autonomy and informed consent for patients with a mental disorder under biomedicine convention. Medicine and Law: an international journal, 37(2), 297–314. Retrieved from