After a number of well publicised cases where disabled Britons have
tried to obtain legal support to commit suicideusually with the
involvement of someone elsethe General Medical Council is once
examining the issue of withholding food and water from patients.
Two particular cases, about which we have been informed recently,
concern two elderly women (85 and 79 years of age) admitted to UK
hospitals with conditions that were not life threatening. In both
cases, the women's families believed that they were receiving medical
care. In fact, both women were being denied food and water and
Supporters of euthanasia usually make a great deal about ensuring
that patients and/or their families are fully involved in the
decision to withdraw treatment. However, these cases illustrate that
it is not simply about withdrawing treatment, but allowing patients
to die from dehydration, when fluid and food is denied them against
their wishes. Equally offensive, is that the decision to kill these
patients was obviously made by medical staff, without any reference
to the wishes of the family.
There can be no better warning of the 'Pandora's Box' that pro-
euthanasia campaigners are trying to open. More importantly, cases
such as these will ensure that vulnerable groups are less inclined to
seek medical help.
It is surely time that those in the medical profession decided
whether they are healers or killers?
From Disability Tribune (August 2002) DAA, 11 Belgrave Road London
SWIV 1RB UK.