A mother’s application to end the life of her incapacitated daughter is being heard by the Court of Protection. This is a potentially pivotal case which could shift the law on euthanasia.This particular case is significant because the daughter has a degree of consciousness – which means she can respond to touch, move an arm and can put her tongue in and out.
The case has come to light after a mother has sought permission to withdraw food and water from her brain-damaged daughter.
So far the courts have only allowed nutrition to be withdrawn from patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). If the family’s legal action is successful it would be the first time a court has allowed food and water to be withdrawn from a non-PVS patient. Yes, that’s right. Starving a patient to death. It’s been legalised in certain situations.
The case, which started yesterday, will last for ten days. The 53-year-old patient’s family say that she is often in pain and would be better off dead. But their case is being opposed by the official solicitor and the NHS trust caring for her.
This case, if passed, could have drastic implications for the 6,000 Britons who are in a similar condition.
Nikki Kenward, who has previously fought back from near total paralysis, has warned that allowing the withdrawal of food and water would set a dangerous precedent for patients.
Speaking to The Sunday Times she said,
You have to ask the question: are we going to kill someone who is aware of it? Would you still say, ‘We are going to kill you?’, because that is what it is going to come to. It will open those doors.
The news follows the heart-wrenching story of Martin Pistorius who was left paralysed and comatose following a throat infection at the age of 12. His awareness began to improve four years later and by the age of 19 it had fully returned. But it took five more years before a therapist noticed that he was trying to communicate.
Where do you think the morality is in this case? Is it in the fact that people are withdrawing food and water from human beings and leaving them to starve? Or is it in the mother who think she knows best, even though she doesn’t know for certain that her daughter isn’t thinking thoughts, isn’t dreaming dreams and cannot make her own decisions? What if she knows these talks are going on and feels imprisoned because she can’t speak out and let people know that she doesn’t want to die?
I don’t know the full story of the situation to pass too much judgment. But if we suppose the facts are accurate, I think this is a terrible, awful and abhorrent situation. At the very least, starving patients which results in chronic dehydration, malnutrition and ultimately death is a demonic thing to carry out on a living, breathing human being.
Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre.
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