Wednesday, 12 November 2008

MCA paves way for euthanasia

The Mental Capacity Act allows people the right to refuse food and water (included in the Act as "treatment") either at the time or by an advance directive. It also allows patients to give someone else an enduring power of attorney relating to their "welfare" and this person also can direct that food and water is not to be given.

In the discussion before the passing of the MCA, many of us pointed to the danger that this already serious erosion of respect for life would lead to demands for further legalisation of euthanasia. The next step is assisted suicide. In an important article today, John Smeaton has shown how the leading secularlist, Evan Harris, has explicitly made the connection. (See: Mental Capacity Act creates impetus for lethal dose assisted suicide).

Harris said of patients who wish to die:
"They use their ability to refuse treatment because the fairest and most humane way of exercising control is not available to them ... I do not have time to go into the case of people who refuse food and water, but again it means a more protracted death than the painless one that is available through assisted dying."
This shows the truth of the prophecy made in 1984 by Helga Kuhse, who was at that time President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies:
"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".
Now where are those pundits who poured scorn on the "slippery slope" argument?
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