HomeoldA Court Allows Slow-Motion Euthanasia in the U.K.

A Court Allows Slow-Motion Euthanasia in the U.K.

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In the United Kingdom, a 34-year-old unnamed patient (MSP) with a severe but treatable bowel problem is to be kept in an artificial coma and denied sustenance until he dehydrates to death. This case is somewhat complex, so it is necessary to provide some background information. MSP has a history of serious depression, mental illness, and chronic bowel issues. He had a temporary stoma implanted as doctors attempted to overcome the bowel problem. However, following an attempt at corrective surgery, the medical team has now determined that the stoma will have to be permanent.

MSP repeatedly expressed profound distress at the prospect of being unable to secure employment or form a romantic relationship. Consequently, he has been kept in a deep state of unconsciousness following surgery. MSP’s parents are concerned that he may attempt suicide if he is released from the hospital with a stoma. They are convinced, based on his advance directive and numerous conversations, that he would now rather be dead than alive.

Consequently, the hospital petitioned the court to ascertain the legal parameters for implementing the procedure. The court ruled that the patient’s death could proceed. The court-approved plan, as detailed in the ruling, is as follows:

Dr. W. believes that if the patient’s wishes are to be respected, it would be appropriate to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration while maintaining sedation. This approach, which ultimately compromises respiration, is likely to result in the patient’s death.

Let’s unpack this:

  • Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not legal in the United Kingdom. This article will examine a potential loophole in the prohibition of these practices.
  • MSP is not terminally ill.
  • The court is determining what is in the patient’s “best interests” due to his incapacity and inability to communicate on his own behalf.
  • The patient’s incapacitation is a direct consequence of the medical team’s decision to administer drugs in order to maintain an artificial coma. This course of action is not medically necessary for the patient’s optimal care.
  • Should MSP be awakened and recovered, he would be able to breathe on his own and receive sustenance.
  • The transition to living with a stoma can be challenging and emotionally distressing. My father, for instance, experienced these difficulties. Nevertheless, numerous individuals with stomas lead fulfilling and contented lives.
  • The patient will be kept in a coma without sustenance or respiratory support until death occurs.
  • The maintenance of the coma is an active means of enabling the refusal of artificial nutrition and hydration and ventilation. Consequently, it is being implemented as part of the process to allow the killing of this patient by dehydration or by suppression of respiration as the patient weakens.
  • In other words, this is not primarily about refusing medical treatment. Rather, it is a facade. In fact, maintaining the patient in a state of unconsciousness is not a medical treatment but rather a method of facilitating a slow-motion form of euthanasia known as “terminal sedation.” Indeed, Dutch doctors who are reluctant to administer lethal injections often resort to terminal sedation as a means of causing death.
  • It is important to distinguish between terminal sedation and palliative sedation. The latter is a legitimate end-of-life medical treatment that aims to keep patients with intractable pain who are close to death comfortable. These patients die naturally of their disease, not by intentional dehydration.

What are the implications of this case? Some argue that MSP should be permitted to die because he would prefer not to live with a stoma. It is his life, after all, and he should not be compelled to live in a manner that he finds unacceptable. Indeed, this was the central argument presented by the court.

Some may argue that he should be allowed to die because his parents, at the end of their rope and desperate to do what is right by their son, believe that this is the best course of action. Others may contend that this is merely a case of refusing medical treatment, specifically a ventilator, which the court ruling notes he no longer needs, and tube-supplied food and water.

This approach is flawed. First, how is this any different from administering a lethal injection, other than the speed of death? The drugs given to keep him in a coma are infused for the explicit purpose of keeping him unconscious so that he requires these artificial medical means to continue living. Second, there are many people who face very difficult medical situations and become suicidal. For example, people who become quadriplegic suddenly.

However, studies have demonstrated that over time, with the implementation of mental health interventions, the prevalence of depression among these individuals is comparable to that observed in the general population. Therefore, it is imperative to question whether terminally sedating such individuals is an appropriate course of action, particularly when there is a possibility that they may later experience happiness in their lives.

Furthermore, it is evident that individuals who are suicidal desire to die. Therefore, it is questionable whether the medical aspect of this issue is significant. Should we permit medical professionals to facilitate the deaths of otherwise healthy individuals who are suicidal? This is a direction in which we are headed.

In conclusion, it can be argued that this is a profound abandonment, albeit by a judge and parents attempting to do the right thing. MSP is being denied the opportunity for recovery, adjustment to new circumstances, and the possibility of a better life. There is no possibility of receiving intensive mental health interventions that might help him overcome his despair. There is no possibility of finding happiness. There is no possibility of finding a job. There is no possibility of finding a woman to love. There is no possibility of life.

Furthermore, the act of dehydrating this patient to death is a step towards the normalization of lethal injection euthanasia. After all, it is a logical conclusion. If the patient is going to be made dead anyway, why not simply administer a lethal injection instead of subjecting MSP, his parents, and the medical team to the arduous process of terminal sedation, which will take approximately one or two weeks?


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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