Saturday 4 July 2009

Elderly will be even less safe from abuse if assisted suicide ban removed

An elderly lady was dehydrated to death in a private care home in London, her daughter has claimed. The Daily Mail reports that Jeanne Matthews, 80, suffered extreme dehydration, being given as little as a thimbleful of water a day.

Apart from the frequent reports of neglect of the elderly, we shouldn't forget that euthanasia by neglect is now enshrined in English law, by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Act builds upon court rulings which have condemned mentally incapacitated patients to death by dehydration and starvation. If assisted suicide also becomes part of English law, an additional means of lethal abuse will be opened, for the malicious, the uncaring and the irresponsible to use against the vulnerable.

The facts of Jeanne Matthews' death seem to be obscure and disputed, which is not uncommon in end-of-life cases. We cannot rely upon the medical authorities to report fully and honestly the facts in countries or states where assisted suicide and euthanasia are permitted. It is therefore imperative for the protection of elderly and other vulnerable patients that assisted suicide is banned in English law. Time is running out, as the House of Lords will debate amendments on assisted suicide as early as this Tuesday, 7 July. Please read and respond to SPUC's action alert.

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