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Government draft bill will mean euthanasia for mentally incapacitated adults, says SPUC

27 June 2003

Government draft bill will mean euthanasia for mentally incapacitated adults, says SPUC Westminster, 27 June 2003--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has commented on the government's draft Mental Incapacity Bill (published today) , which contains proposals that would allow euthanasia by neglect. SPUC general secretary Paul Tully commented: "The draft bill proposes two mechanisms which could be used to force doctors to kill by withdrawing life-sustaining treatment and care from vulnerable patients. Patients who have signed a "lasting powers of attorney" or an "advance decision to refuse treatment" may die by dehydration and starvation as a result. The bill would not only affect patients who have signed such documents, but threatens the lives of others too. It applies to any adult who is mentally incapacitated. This includes people who have severe learning disabilities, dementia, or brain injuries that prevent communication." Mr Tully continued: "All such people will be affected by the radical proposals in the draft bill to change the aims that doctors should pursue when treating adult patients who cannot communicate. Doctors will no longer be able to assume that they can intervene to restore health, prevent death or reduce discomfort. Doctors will have to be able to show that this accords with the patient's "past and present wishes and feelings". There is also a requirement to encourage the patient to participate in anything done to him or for him. If a doctor cannot prove such criteria are met, he may face criminal charges for treating a patient. "Legalised euthanasia is coming to Britain unless doctors and nurses, disabled people and carers, lawyers and the clergy, parents, teachers, the old and the young - all who have a voice and vote - act to stop it", concluded Mr Tully .

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