I’ve been following this case, but reader Joseph sent me this link to the latest court decision in the case of a disabled British man who wants a court order to say that he should not be starved to death.
Leslie Burke has a degenerative brain condition and it is likely that one day he will be incapacitated and unable to communicate with others around him. He simply wanted the court to say acknowledge his right to state a priori that doctors should never deprive him of assisted nutrition and hydration. Britain’s General Medical Council objected to an individual having a greater say over his life than the doctors who know better. The courts agreed with the doctors and thus in Britain there no longer exists an inalienable right to live and an innocent person can be deprived of that life without due process.
In the original case, Mr Burke argued the GMC’s advice, which gives doctors in cases such as his the ultimate say on what treatment to give a patient in the final stages, was an infringement of his human rights.
But during the appeal hearing, Philip Havers, QC, representing the GMC, said the original ruling had fundamentally altered the nature of doctor/patient relationships and was not in the best interests of the patient.
He said doctors would have to provide treatment which they knew would be of no benefit or could even be harmful.
I understand what the GMC is saying, but it still sets and ugly precedent. If we thought what happened to Terri Schiavo was bad, wait until we see the first person who can communicate his wishes, but is still starved to death. It’s coming, mark my words.