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Thursday, July 28, 2005

That Slippery Slope of Euthanasia

Hyscience blogs about a specific case in "Right-to-life appeal verdict due." This is a very peculiar case of both dizzying and outrageous proportions. Essentially, Mr. Leslile Burke, 45, secured a court ruling in 2004 that requires doctors to keep Mr. Burke fed with food and drink even when he can no longer speak. "Mr Burke has cerebellar ataxia - an umbrella term for nervous system disorders that cause a lack of co-ordination, but do not affect mental faculties." On the other hand, the General Medical Council is appealing the ruling because they see a conflict looming in the future: at some point, they will believe that it is in the patient's best interest to be euthanized, since his quality of life falls below some standard. Basically what they're saying is that the ruling pits THEIR expert opinion against the prefernce expressed in advance by Mr. Burke. Outrageously, the GMC has no problem asserting that they have a greater say on Mr. Burke's continued existence than Mr. Burke himself. Here's another article on that legal battle. Please read all the way through. There's another case at the bottom of that article concerning Dr. Jane Campbell. "When she was in hospital last year doctors twice said that they assumed that she would not want to be resuscitated should the need arise. Literally afraid for her life, she kept herself awake for 48 hours." Hmm... The laws of Florida, Victoria and the UK now consider artificially administered food and water through a feeding tube as artificial life support which can be withheld for various reasons. I'm not sure which states say waht, but it can be withheld from the dying, so as to hasten their death, or from those who are not dying but are living a quality of life that doctors find unacceptable. I am definitely having second toughts about growing old in Victoria at this point. Serious second thoughts. Wait a minute -- Mr. Burke is only 45!

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