For example, commenting on the mandatory helmet law debate, A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE) has said it does not “advocate that you ride without a helmet when the law is repealed, only that you have the right to decide.” Of course, these autonomous decision-making rights are not absolute, and may be limited when the choice of an individual unfairly burdens others or puts them at significant risk.
And, while they emphasized the three fundamental principles—patient welfare, autonomy, and social justice—the authors noted that in any contract between medicine and society, physicians should provide expert advice to society on matters of health and public safety.
And, although the number of organs recovered from motor vehicle accidents each year is fairly small and would increase nationwide organ donation numbers by less than 1 percent, opponents of mandatory helmet laws could claim that the autonomous decision to ride without a helmet may provide a societal benefit that offsets the associated societal burdens.
However, such an argument would do little to justify the imposition of unnecessary burdens on the cyclist’s loved ones.
Groups such as the American Motorcycle Association argue that “mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes,” and are an inappropriate method of increasing safety and public awareness.
Although the prevention and reduction of injury are a primary focus of helmet use, the motorcycle helmet law debate typically raises ethical issues that extend beyond the more immediate and intended purpose of protecting the head of the rider.