Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill Written Evidence

112.Memorandum from the Islamic Medical Association UK (MIB 352)

  I am writing to you to express my deep concern and objection to the new mental incapacity bill in context of the potential of withdrawal of food, fluids and necessary treatment to terminally ill/mentally incapacitated patients.

  Islam like other monotheistic faiths upholds the sanctity and sacredness of life, so much so that an analogy of any individual terminating an individuals life is given in the Quran (chapter 5: verse 32); it is likened to the "slaying of the whole of mankind and on the contrary anyone saving a life, it is as if he has saved the life of all of mankind."

  We have a responsibility and a duty to protect the most vulnerable in society as healthcare professionals and to place a clear and defining line between treating and harming our patients. One area where this can truly be exemplified is in the last hours, days or months of any terminally ill/mentally-incapacitated individual. Why deny there basic human rights; the simplicities in life such as food and drink when they are at their most vulnerable, possibly unaware or unconscious.

Many individuals cite "to die with dignity" is a basic human right and I would agree, to die with dignity means as medical healthcare professionals to provide necessary nutrients, fluids, medicines, analgesia and counselling/company to make an individual comfortable during there remaining years.

  The introduction of any legislation allowing the withdrawal of food/fluid from any patient or to neglect life saving treatment is euthanasia by omission and a crime against the sanctity of life. The potential for abuse of this type of legislation by all members of society for personal, social or political gain is too of grave concern. This has only been recently emphasised by the "Shipman" enquiry where advantage of the more vulnerable groups of society lead sadly to numerous deaths over five decades.

  Hence, I urge you on behalf of the members of the Islamic Medical Association (IMA) to reject the introduction of the mental incapacity bill and return basic human rights to all in society at a time where each and every one of us will be at our most vulnerable.

August 2003

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