British Survey: Public Favors Right to Live in Euthanasia Cases (2005)

A survey conducted by a doctors group finds that the British public favors allowing patients to receive food and water if they have asked in advance not to have it removed. The polling results are similar to those in a recent survey conducted in the USA. First Do No Harm, a coalition of doctors and physicians who oppose euthanasia, conducted the poll of 1,000 people and found 77 percent thought patients who made a previous request to have food and water should not be deprived of it regardless of the views of doctors or family members. The survey also looked at the case of Leslie Burke, a patient with a degenerative brain condition. Burke won a case at the British High Court because he feared that doctors would refuse to provide him wanted food and water when his condition deteriorates to the point that he has to receive nourishment through a feeding tube. Current British Medical Association ethical guidelines permit doctors to stop tube-supplied nutrition/hydration if they believe the patient’s quality of life is poor, leading to eventual death. The poll found only one-third of respondents favored guidelines for doctors allowing them to withhold food and water from patients who can’t make their own medical decisions. [London, LifeNews.com,...

Right To Live

1           RIGHT TO LIVE — L. Burke, 44, is terminally ill. He has asked a court for the right to live. In the not too distant future he will present his family and his doctors with an impossible dilemma. They will have to decide whether the quality of his life has become so poor that it is no longer worth preserving. Burke was a postman, diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia in 1983, a degenerative brain condition; he has been given less than 20 years to live. But whether he lives or dies is a decision he believes only he should be permitted to make. He argued that his life is so precious to him that there is no point when it should ever become necessary for the medical profession to intervene and let him die. It is a legal action that could have far-reaching implications for thousands of other people whose lives will eventually become dependent on artificial nutrition. Burke is being supported by anti-euthanasia groups who say it is the first “right-to-life” case of its kind. He hopes his action will eventually change the guidance given to doctors. “What I am frightened of most is that there will come a time when I have lost the capacity to communicate but am aware that the hospital has decided to stop feeding me,” he said. “Once they withdraw artificial nutrition it will take between 2 & 3 weeks for me to die. I will be lying there in great distress but unable to tell any one that I want to live.” He is using the Human Rights Act to challenge the criteria...

Right to Live (2/04)

RIGHT TO LIVE — L. Burke, 44, is terminally ill. He has asked a court for the right to live. In the not too distant future he will present his family and his doctors with an impossible dilemma. They will have to decide whether the quality of his life has become so poor that it is no longer worth preserving. Burke was a postman, diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia in 1983, a degenerative brain condition; he has been given less than 20 years to live. But whether he lives or dies is a decision he believes only he should be permitted to make. He argued that his life is so precious to him that there is no point when it should ever become necessary for the medical profession to intervene and let him die. It is a legal action that could have far-reaching implications for thousands of other people whose lives will eventually become dependent on artificial nutrition. Burke is being supported by anti-euthanasia groups who say it is the first “right-to-life” case of its kind. He hopes his action will eventually change the guidance given to doctors. “What I am frightened of most is that there will come a time when I have lost the capacity to communicate but am aware that the hospital has decided to stop feeding me,” he said. “Once they withdraw artificial nutrition it will take between 2 & 3 weeks for me to die. I will be lying there in great distress but unable to tell any one that I want to live.” He is using the Human Rights Act to challenge the criteria upon...