Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Inglis appeal judgment is a fascinating revelation into how euthanasia works

Frances Inglis, who murdered her brain-damaged son Thomas, yesterday lost her appeal against her conviction and life sentence (though the Court of Appeal did reduce the minimum period before eligibility to apply for parole). Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's communications manager, has reviewed the judgment and he tells me that its details contain a fascinating revelation into how euthanasia works in practice. Anthony highlights Mrs Inglis' firm belief that it was her son Thomas should be killed because (according to her):
  • "she knew what Thomas's wishes would have been"
  • "he did not have the quality of life he wanted"
  • "it would be better if he were dead"
  • he was now "a vegetable"; and
  • he had in fact "died" in the accident which left him brain-damaged.
Anthony also highlights the idea, raised by Thomas' doctors, that the hospital could approach the courts for permission to kill Thomas by euthanasia by omission ("withhold[ing] treatment, and nutrition and hydration", an idea which Mrs Inglis rejected as "barbaric".

Anthony highlighted, as others did, the following statement by the presiding judge as perhaps the most significant:
"We must also emphasise that the law does not recognise the concept implicit in the defence statement that Thomas Inglis was "already dead in all but a small physical degree". The fact is that he was alive, a person in being. However brief the time left for him, that life could not lawfully be extinguished. Similarly, however disabled Thomas might have been, a disabled life, even a life lived at the extremes of disability, is not one jot less precious than the life of an able-bodied person. Thomas's condition made him especially vulnerable, and for that among other reasons, whether or not he might have died within a few months anyway, his life was protected by the law, and no one, not even his mother, could lawfully step in and bring it to a premature conclusion."
SPUC's bioethical experts will analyse and comment further on this fascinating judgment.

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