Media battle for euthanasia being waged in Britain

A media battle for euthanasia is being waged in Britain in the wake of a court decision refusing a paralysed man the right to end his life.

Tony Nicklinson, paralysed from the neck down after a stroke seven years ago, died of natural causes a week after three High Court judges ruled that Parliament should decide whether euthanasia should be allowed.

The media battle has included numerous opinion polls conducted with the aim of demonstrating widespread support, especially among the young, for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Euthanasia campaigners are also using celebrity endorsements to curry support, with actors, singers, novelists, comedians, philosophers and even war veterans agreeing to serve as patrons of the Dignity in Dying group. They include Sir Patrick Stewart, the Star Trek actor, and Sir Terry Pratchett, the science fiction writer.

Catholic News Service reports that some Catholic doctors in recent months have taken huge risks with their careers to argue that a system designed to care for people in their final hours can be operated as a euthanasia pathway.

The Liverpool Care Pathway allows medical staff to decide if a patient is dying, then to sedate the patient with opiates and to remove artificial food and fluids, which under British law are classed as “treatment”. Audits have revealed that patients take an average of 29 hours to die.

Dr Philip Howard, a Catholic who works in a health service hospital in Surrey, said it is extremely difficult to predict when a patient will die, especially if the disease is noncancerous. The short life expectancy on the Liverpool Care Pathway “suggests that in some cases (or perhaps many), the pathway is either causing or significantly contributing to death,” he said.

The government insists, however, that the pathway “is not euthanasia”. A Department of Health statement described the pathway as an “established and respected tool” that enjoys “overwhelming support from clinicians at home and abroad”.


Catholic News Service

Image: The Telegraph

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