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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Parliament destroys Hippocratic medical ethics by passing pro euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill

5 April 2005

Parliament destroys Hippocratic medical ethics by passing pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill Westminster, Tuesday 5th April 2005 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a member of the Campaign Against Euthanasia has deplored Parliament's passing of the government's pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Bill, warning that it heralds the end of the Hippocratic tradition of medical ethics in Britain. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "We can expect more Schiavo-like killings when the Bill comes into force. SPUC has continued to fight for patients in the UK like Terri since Tony Bland, a patient in a similar condition, was also killed by judicial fiat in 1993. "Deliberate killing by dehydration has become more prevalent since the 1993 Bland judgment. The Bland judgement opened the door for doctors to dehydrate and starve to death certain mentally incapacitated patients. What this Bill does, through advance decisions, lasting powers of attorney and the re-definition of "best interests" and "medical treatment", is to extend the principles of the Bland decision to all mentally incapacitated patients. The passage of the Bill will have profound repercussions - it will mean that doctors will be forced to choose between killing some of their patients and leaving the profession. It will destroy what is left of medical ethics in this country", said Mr Ozimic. In a 16 July letter to the Catholic Herald, a group of Catholic medical and legal experts wrote: "The Pope in a recent address has made it clear that even in the case of PVS patients 'the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering'. This Bill would permit and indeed legally protect routine abuse and termination of the life of the vulnerable and would create an inconsistent body of law with conflicting obligations for health professionals. It compromises the principle that all people have an intrinsic dignity irrespective of their mental impairment or physical condition, one of the cornerstones of Christian civilization, enshrined not only in the ancient common law of England, but also in the Hippocratic tradition of medicine and in international law properly understood." Mr Ozimic continued: "Doctors who refuse on clinical or other ethical grounds to implement an advance refusal of treatment face litigation and possibly criminal conviction. Even in situations where there is no obligation to provide therapeutic measures (for example, when they are ineffective) there remains a duty of care towards the patient. It would be unreasonable, and immoral, to force healthcare professionals to relinquish this responsibility because of their conscientious objection to implementing clinically inappropriate or unethical advance refusals. "Just as the Westminster Parliament was the first Western legislature to legalise abortion on a mass scale, and the first legislature to legalise human cloning, it has added to its shameful record by being the first legislature to pass a comprehensive statute enshrining euthanasia by omission on a grand scale", concluded Mr Ozimic.

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