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Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Ultimate Destination Of The “Compassionate State”

By Francis W. Porretto
Francis W. Porretto avatar

A recent ruling has given British doctors an unreviewable power to starve a patient to death "in his best interests":

The General Medical Council has won its appeal against a ruling which gave a seriously-ill patient the right to stop doctors withdrawing food and drink.

[...snip...]

Artificial nutrition is classed as a form of treatment by the GMC and therefore last July's ruling, which was hailed as a breakthrough for the rights of terminally-ill patients, raised questions about medical interventions.

In the original case, Mr Burke [Leslie Burke, a seriously ill patient who anticipates losing his power of speech and movement] argued the GMC's advice, which gives doctors in cases such as his the ultimate say on what treatment to give a patient in the final stages, was an infringement of his human rights.

But during the appeal hearing, Philip Havers, QC, representing the GMC, said the original ruling had fundamentally altered the nature of doctor/patient relationships and was not in the best interests of the patient.

He said doctors would have to provide treatment which they knew would be of no benefit or could even be harmful.

GMC president Professor Sir Graeme Catto said "Patients should be reassured by this judgement which emphasises the partnership needed to resolve end of life issues."

[Link courtesy of The Anchoress.]

Read this very carefully, Gentle Reader: Mr. Burke asked that he be guaranteed that even should he lose the power of speech and motion, depriving him of his future ability to express himself, his present, clearly articulated desires -- to be fed and hydrated artificially until his disease should take his life -- should be respected. The British General Medical Council claims that being kept alive might not be "in the patient's best interests."

Dear God. To make it even more Orwellian, the GMC president wants its helpless victims to be "reassured."

Mind you, it's illegal to starve a dog to death in Britain. The crime is considered heinous; the penalty is severe. But he who totes a stethoscope in Her Majesty's Service is apparently above all such concerns.

"If thou takest the King's shilling, thou art the King's man." At present, Britain still permits the private practice of medicine, in contrast to Canada, where it's against the law to offer medical services for private compensation. But this ruling, and other practices in harmony with it, will send a horde of Britons to the private doctors and hospitals that remain -- and the mandarins of socialized medicine will undoubtedly respond by moving to ban all private medical practice.

If you thought the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case stood apart from all other concerns, you were wrong.

Posted by Francis W. Porretto on 07/30/2005 at 06:28 AM

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  1. it seems no matter when you hear ‘government’ in the same sense as “compassion” it means someone is going to die.

    Posted by og  on  07/30/2005  at  08:38 AM
  2. The government doctor can kill me as long as it’s for my own good. The capitalist doctors would only want to keep me alive so that I could continue to pay them. Scoundrels!

    Posted by sonofsheldon  on  07/30/2005  at  10:41 PM
  3. I can barely work up any surprise over this latest travesty.  If socialized medicine is finally shoved down our throats, I would expect such rulings to appear here as well.  In fact, with the Schiavo precedent, it would be difficult to not have starvation being used as a standard “treatment.”

    Posted by david  on  07/31/2005  at  04:45 AM


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