Dr Coffey was given leave by the house to introduce a private member’s bill to ensure that everyone has a right to such provision.
Commenting on the debate, Paul Tully of SPUC Pro-Life said:
“Dr Coffey drew attention to the late Tony Bland, the young man who died of thirst after a court-sanctioned decision by his doctor to end his life by dehydration/starvation. This was the legal turning point where the House of Lords first defined food and fluids given by tube as medical treatment. This definition has led to thousands of people being denied vital food and water.Dr Coffey was given leave to introduce the bill by the House of Commons without a division.
“It is critical that Parliament should pass legislation to reverse this lethal ruling.
“A small proportion of cases have subsequently gone to court to confirm that doctors can stop giving a patient food and fluids in order to kill him or her. In many other cases, no legal process has been used, but patients have been left to die without food or fluids. Our experience suggests that many stroke, dementia and learning-disabled people are vulnerable to this kind of regime.
“As Dr Coffey pointed out, water is absolutely essential for life - without it patients die. She also stressed quite rightly that end of life care requires great skill, and that decisions to withdraw treatment, though difficult, could be legitimate.
“SPUC Pro-Life, which has intervened in several major legal cases in this area in recent years, has offered Dr Coffey support and advice on the drafting of her bill.”
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