Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill Written Evidence

63.Multiple submissions—Example 2 (MIB 411)

   I have grave concerns regarding the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill, which is currently being debated by Parliament.

  Whilst it is always sensible to make every effort to plan ahead, especially for a time when our health or faculties may begin to fail, we should be able to do so without fear that someone else may deem it preferable to have our life terminated.

  I am particularly concerned that this Bill would enable people who want to "plan ahead for possible incapacity" to give a carer, relative or friend the authority (a "Lasting Power of Attorney") to deal with decision making on their behalf on financial, welfare and healthcare matters. There have been cases in the past when such a trust on matters of finance have been violated for financial gain. Such a violation is serious, but in matters of life and death this would be even more serious.

  Accepting that an individual may order the termination of another's life because they can truthfully or even falsely claim to have heard them express a wish to be dead is horrendous. Most people will at some time or other experience occasions when life appears to be a burden. Thankfully most people live through such experiences and find that life really is worthwhile after all. Even patients with a terminal illness can, with the aid of modern drugs, be assisted to live the final part of their life as comfortably as possible and with dignity. The withdrawal of food and fluids is to deprive them of their right to do so. To expect doctors, nurses, relatives or carers to assist in the termination of a life is to deprive them of the right to obey their conscience.

  Because a person may appear to us to be mentally incapacitated does not mean that they are incapable of enjoying life in their own way.

  As a civilised nation our aim should be to make adequate provision for the care of our less fortunate incapacitated members.

  None of us knows what fate may have in store for us. But we should all be able to feel reassured that no matter what happens to us we will be allowed to live out our lives with dignity, surrounded by love and provided with every medical means to ensure us comfort and ease, without the fear that our life will be forcibly taken from us.

August 2003

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