For many years there has been some controversy over whether an individual has the right to endanger himself if his conduct threatens no direct harm to others. This issue has come up in a number of contexts including committing suicide, wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle, engaging in endurance contests, and refusing a medically indicated blood transfusion. Recently it was raised again when the Holiness Church of God in Jesus Name in the mountains of Tennessee went to court over the right of its members to drink poison. On September 8, 1975, the Supreme Court of Tennessee handed down its decision in that case in State ex rel. Swann v. Pack enjoining the members of the sect from handling snakes or drinking poison because such activities constitute a common law public nuisance. This comment explores the debate over the validity of self-endangerment legislation and the case of State ex rel. Swann v. Pack.

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



Notes/Citation Information

Kentucky Law Journal, Vol. 65, No. 1 (1976-1977), pp. 195-219



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.