Physician Assisted Suicide: From Oregon to UK?
It appears that the British Medical Association is now taking a position of approving physician assisted suicide legislation. This position has as yet not been taken by the American Medical Association. Oregon is the only state in United States in which physician assisted suicide is legal. Here is the story as reported by LifeSite,a Canadian pro-life news website. Superficially, the general description of the bill to be introduced to the House of Lords sounds similar to the Oregon law. More later on this topic. ..Maurice.
British Medical Association Drops Opposition to Assisted Suicide
Bill to be reintroduced in House of Lords
MANCHESTER, July 4, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Last Tuesday, LifeSiteNews.com reported that the British Medical Association had pledged to ‘discuss’ the possibility of approving the legalization of assisted suicide. Despite persistent opposition to any encroachment of euthanasia by some doctors, the BMA took only two days to decide to reverse its 35-year old official opposition to doctors providing the means for patients to kill themselves. A bill is shortly to be introduced in the House of Lords that, while it would not require doctors to administer fatal drugs, would make it legal for them to provide patients with the means to commit suicide.
Meeting in Manchester, members voted narrowly not to oppose the soon-to-be proposed legislation. The BMA has been edging closer to approving direct and indirect euthanasia for years and is already one of the world’s most abortion-supportive national medical associations. In recent years, the British courts have given doctors greater powers over the lives of disabled patients, often despite the wishes of parents who fought for and lost the right to have their disabled infants kept alive.
Lord Joffe has promised to re-introduce his private members bill, Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill, that would decriminalize the practice. He said, “The BMA’s decision to adopt a neutral stance is an important move because the Government is really thinking carefully about the issue.”
The BMA’s motion stated that doctors believed that the question of “the criminal law in relation to assisted dying is primarily a matter for society and for Parliament,” but added they would press for “robust safeguards.”
Such “safeguards” are likely to prove ineffectual since most hospital ethics boards approve passive euthanasia by dehydration for patients who are not able to receive nutrition and hydration by mouth. Leslie Burke,[See my posting May 24, 2005 on this blog] a man suffering from a progressive neurological disease, took the government to court to establish that he would not be killed by dehydration when he could no longer swallow. Burke won his case, but the National Health Service is appealing for the right to kill him when his life is considered too “burdensome” to be worth preserving.
An extensive survey into medical practice regarding end of life decisions carried out in 1996 shows that these safeguards are not being adhered to. In 1995 almost two thirds of cases of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide went unreported. One in five cases of euthanasia occurred without the patient's explicit request,
The approval of the British Medical Association and the doctors’ support for the assisted suicide bill in Scotland are likely to be used to support pending Canadian legislation that would allow doctors to provide a lethal drug if a patient is suffering from “mental anguish.”
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