68.Memorandum from the Salford Diocesan
Fellowship for the Handicapped (MIB 457)
I write on behalf of the Salford Diocesan Fellowship
for the Handicapped with comments on some aspects of the Draft
Bill being considered by your committee. The Fellowship has many
members with learning disabilities, some of whom are profoundly
disabled. We have a particular interest in any legislation, which
could affect their rights.
1. We firstly express concern that so little
time has been granted for written submissions to be made, particularly
over the busy holiday season, when it is not easy for organisations
to collect the views of members.
2. Many of our members do not have the "capacity"
to make decisions about their own care. We believe strongly that
they have the same right to life and preservation of life as any
other human being and view with dismay proposals in the Bill,
which could make them even more vulnerable to the misguided decisions
3. Whilst we support totally the view that
people should be allowed to die with dignity, we are strongly
opposed to the proposal that the withdrawal of food and fluids
is in the best interests of people. Planned death by dehydration
of terminally ill, elderly and incapacitated people is completely
unacceptable. We do not believe that this is in anybody's "best
interests". The medical profession is still not able to judge
the degree of suffering endured by mentally impaired or unresponsive
people from whom fluids are withdrawn. Far from improving an individuals
comfort, it contributes to the suffering.
4. This Bill will in effect create the climate
that euthanasia by neglect or omission is lawful. This devalues
human life. It is only a step away from deciding that the life
of any person who is mentally impaired can be terminated.