High Court rules on withdrawing life support treatment

Doctors and relatives of patients with debilitating illnesses will no longer have to get court permission before withdrawing life support treatment, a high court judge has ruled. It means that if relatives and doctors agree and all medical guidelines are being observed, they will no longer have to go through a long-winded legal process to get permission.

Judge Peter Jackson’s ruling in the Court of Protection came after a case brought on behalf of a woman, identified only as ‘M’, who suffered from Huntington’s disease – a rare, crippling genetic condition which affects the nervous system and for which there is no cure.

She was believed to be in a minimally conscious state at a hospital in the Midlands when the application on her behalf was issued in April. The judge granted permission in June and her feeding tubes were withdrawn on 24 July. She died, aged 50, on 4 August after suffering from the disease for more than 25 years. 

‘There was no statutory obligation to bring the case to court,’ Judge Jackson said in his comments on the case, which have only just been released. He added: ‘A mandatory litigation requirement may deflect clinicians and families from making true best-interests decisions and in some cases lead to inappropriate treatment continuing by default.’

What are your views on this ruling. Is this a positive move for the “right to die” lobby?

Comment (1) Add yours ↓
  1. Sandy Tyndale-Biscoe Retired activist

    So, after all the rats, sorry, lawyers, had finished arguing, her suffering was “alleviated” by being starved to death over a period lasting for a fortnight. I understand the ethical arguments that made this apparently necessary, but to me it seems to be moral cowardice, and the infliction of unnecessary suffering. If you’re going to kill someone, particularly for humanitarian reasons, don’t pussyfoot about.

    September 21, 2017 Reply

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