In this article, it is argued that an application of the harm principle to many forms of nontherapeutic cosmetic surgery shows that these procedures are a form of physical harm, not a form of medicine, and therefore ought to be criminalized. Not only does the harm principle support the case for criminalization, but so too do the relevant precedents. This article focuses on the general moral justifications (wrongful harm to others) for criminalizing unnecessary harmful cosmetic surgery, but legal doctrine is also invoked to demonstrate that there is a legal justification for criminalization. The famous English case of R. v. Brown will be discussed to outline the core legal case for criminalization. This article does not aim to provide a comparative study of the U.S. and English authorities, but rather aims to make theoretical arguments for criminalization, and thus, works from the legal premise that in most states the U.S. courts have taken a similar position to that taken in the seminal English House of Lords decision in R. v. Brown.

This content is only available via PDF.