Disabled peers claim Mental Capacity Bill threatens the vulnerable
10 January 2005
Disabled peers claim Mental Capacity Bill threatens the vulnerable Westminster, 10 January 2005 - Baroness Chapman, a disabled peer, has said that the government's Mental Capacity Bill failed to make patients safe and left them open to abuse. She was speaking during the House of Lords second reading debate on the Bill today. "The Bill ignores the fact that people have a basic right to life," said the people's peer, making her maiden speech in the House of Lords. Baroness Masham, another disabled peer, argued that making a 'living will' could result in people unwittingly causing their own deaths. Both Baroness Chapman and Baroness Masham said that they would not be alive if the Mental Capacity Bill had been law earlier in their lives. The House of Lords gave second reading to the government's controversial Bill tonight. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) condemned the misrepresentation of the pro-life, anti-euthanasia, viewpoint in the Lords' debate on the Bill. Lord Goodhart, QC, claimed that critics of the Bill regarded withdrawal of treatment leading to death as euthanasia, regardless of the circumstances or reasons for withdrawing it. SPUC political secretary, Anthony Ozimic, who attended the debate, said: "SPUC has never taken such a view as Lord Goodhart alleged: his comments are a caricature of our position. He suggested that a withdrawal of treatment with the purpose of ending a patient's life was not euthanasia by neglect. "SPUC contends that withdrawal of treatment is not always wrong. On the contrary, where there is no intention to kill the patient, it is often the right and proper course of action. But deliberately to kill a patient by withholding life sustaining treatment, is wrong and must be excluded from the Bill if it is to protect the vulnerable," concluded Mr Ozimic The House of Lords will consider it in Committee beginning on 25 January.