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Government continues to promote intentional killing

19 January 2005

Government continues to promote intentional killing Government whitewashes euthanasia Bill with empty 'motive' amendment WESTMINSTER, 19 January 2005 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has condemned a Government attempt to whitewash the Mental Capacity Bill by tabling amendments which it falsely claims will prevent the Bill being used to kill patients through neglect. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, commented: "The Government's new proposed amendment regarding motivation&desire to bring about death [see NOTES below] will be as ineffective as the much-criticised clause 58, inserted by the Government last year in an unsuccessful attempt to defuse the euthanasia controversy surrounding the Bill. What the person intended to do (i.e. kill by denial of treatment or care) is what matters in the eyes of the law, not what was their motive or desire (e.g. to benefit from the victim's will, revenge). This amendment would only possibly detect people with pronounced homicidal tendencies such as mass murderer Dr Harold Shipman - and even then only after such killers may have been brought to court. "The Government's motivation/desire amendment would make the bill worse by removing a clause which, though flawed, is more solid and objective. The clause which the Government proposes to delete requires people making decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment to "begin by assuming that it will be in the person's interests for his life to continue." "The Government's 'motivation/desire' amendment is no substitute for real amendments which would prohibit any act or omission which of itself and by intention causes death. "Two other new Government amendments on advance decisions ('living wills') are little more than a minor tightening of formalities. "Key concepts in these amendments and in the Bill such as 'life-sustaining treatment' remain undefined except in vague, broad and subjective terms open to exploitation. The amendments only apply to life-sustaining treatment, despite the fact that death and serious harm can be caused over time by the omission of basic care and ordinary treatment not normally regarded as life-sustaining. For example, a course of antibiotics may not be life-sustaining when being given, but may become life-sustaining if its omission leads to a life-threatening infection. "The Government's new proposed amendments do not prevent the Bill's key mechanisms from being used and abused to kill vulnerable patients. We call upon members of the House of Lords to reject the Government's amendments and insert truly anti-euthanasia amendments into the Bill during next week's Committee stage." NOTES: The Government's new proposed amendment regarding motivation&desire to bring about death reads: Clause 4, page 3, line 8, leave out subsection (5) and insert - "(5) Where the determination relates to life-sustaining treatment he must not, in considering whether the treatment is in the best interests of the person concerned, be motivated by a desire to bring about his death."

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