Here is the BBC version: Vegetative State Drug Review Call
And here is an example from the print media (Daily Telegraph) 'Lazarus' husband demands drug inquiry
The basic story: "Jessica" (not her real name) was a PVS patient. Her family, in the words of the Telegraph, "asked for her feeding to be withdrawn so that she could be allowed to die." The Official Solicitor obtained a High Court order that she should be treated with the anti-insomnia drug Zolpiden which has, in some cases, led to PVS patients recoving some consciousness. It didn't work. The family are angry and demanding an enquiry.
It would be morally acceptable for the family to refuse the drug on behalf of an incapacitated relative if it was agreed that the drug was an "extraordinary means" - as it may well be if the drug is still unproven. (Medics feel free to chip in on this question.)
But notice how the withdrawal of food has been slipped in quietly. The reporting of the case seems to be taking this practice as normal nowadays. Feeding is not an extraordinary means of keeping someone alive. To withdraw food is to withdraw basic care - and the intent of hastening death is clear enough in this case. The obvious inhumanity of this process of starving someone to death is not lost on "Jessica"'s husband. The BBC reports:
After his wife's nutritional support was withdrawn, it took 14 days for her to die, which he said was not a dignified death.As we said in the first newsletter of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life when the debate was raging over the Mental Capacity Bill (passed into law in April 2005 and coming into effect this year.)
"If she was a dog and we said it was incurable and we said I'm going to lock it in its kennel and not feed it, I think the RSPCA would be knocking at your door."
It must be remembered that the euthanasia movement regards the legalisation of euthanasia by neglect as a crucial step in the campaign to legalise active euthanasia. In 1984, Dr Helgha Kuhse, president of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies, said: “If we can get people to accept the removal of all treatment and care – especially the removal of food and fluids – they will see what a painful way this is to die and then, in the patient’s best interests, they will accept the lethal injection.”After this widely publicised case, expect more calls for lethal injections, and much justifying of the Mental Capacity Act.
And very importantly: say a prayer for the happy repose of the soul of "Jessica."