Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill Written Evidence

91.Memorandum from Dr Dermot Lynch (MIB 173)

  I am very concerned about some of the clauses in this draft.

  1.  They appear to allow the withdrawal of tube supplied food and fluid for the purpose of ending life when someone judges that death best serves the interest of the person.

  2.  This may be decided by someone who could have an interest in the death of the individual but who claims to have knowledge of an advance decision verbally expressed. Even a written directive will have been made in different circumstances and may be is a poor reflection of present opinion which cannot be expressed.

  3.  Doctors will be expected to take the action of tube removal or withholding thus abrogating their responsibility to respect life, to heal where possible, to ease suffering and to do no harm. The fact that the profession has already abandoned this principal in regard to abortion is no reason to extend the abandonment.

  4.  The Court of Protection will be altered in a manner, which will reduce the protection provided to the most vulnerable.

  The State can of course alter the Law of the land but cannot alter the morality! Should the State decide to alter the laws in the manner of the objectional clauses it should be honest and accept that:

  1.  They are legalising killing by starvation and dehydration.

  2.  Doctors are being required to do this because of humane reasons but death by starvation is slow and distressing and a subject who cannot communicate is not necessarily unfeeling. Those most skilled in humane killing are abattoir staff!!

  3.  The State is abrogating its duty to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

August 2003

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