Doctors in UK May Soon Euthanize Patients With Degenerative Diseases

New policy proposals by the British Medical Association allow doctors to end the lives of patients 'who are not dying' without court order.

By Nancy Flory Published on August 27, 2018

Remember Charlie Gard? The UK must prepare for many more cases like his — and worse — if the British Medical Association (BMA) has its way. Doctors may soon be able to euthanize people with diseases like Parkinson’s or dementia. Even if the patient’s death is not imminent. 

The UK’s Supreme Court already decided last month that doctors may keep food and water from patients who can’t eat, drink or communicate on their own. 

The BMA’s Proposal

Now the BMA wants to allow doctors to keep food or water from those who cannot feed themselves. This includes patients who suffer with a disease such as Parkinson’s, dementia, or Huntington’s disease, according to the Catholic Herald. It could also mean that a doctor could put to death someone with a “rapidly progressing brain injury.” In any case, it would allow doctors to make life-ending decisions for people who are not naturally near death.

Let’s repeat that. They’re not talking only about patients who are near death or in vegetative state, but “the much larger group of patients who have multiple co-morbidities, frailty or degenerative neurological conditions.”

The BMA proposal states that “due to the degenerative nature of their condition, these patients are on an expected downward trajectory and will inevitably die, usually as a result of their underlying condition, although perhaps not imminently and could, potentially, go on living for many years.”

‘Euthanasia by Stealth’

About 850,000 people with dementia live in Great Britain, reported the Catholic Herald. There could be as many as 1 million with dementia by 2025. That’s not even counting those with other diseases. 

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Dr. Peter Saunders is a campaign director for the group Care Not Killing. He called the proposal “a recipe for euthanasia by stealth, but all in the name of autonomy and best interests.” Saunders said there are possibly “tens of thousands” of patients in England and Wales “who are vulnerable to the use and abuse of this guidance. It will be almost impossible to work out what has happened in a given case and there are no legal mechanisms in place for bringing abusers to justice.”

They are Not Dying

Professor Patrick Pullicino works at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust. He is a consultant who helped to expose wrongful hospital deaths under the Liverpool Care Pathway. He said that the BMA plan was “terrible.” 

“It facilitates the extension of end-of-life pathways to people with neurological diseases who are not dying, which is a very negative thing because there are a lot of disabled neurological patients.”

So, it seems that the Charlie Gard case was just the beginning.

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