Disabled Need Our Protection

Law Society Gazette 101:12 (2004)
The Mental Incapacity Bill not only paves the way for euthanasia, but invites wholesale abuse and homicide, writes Jacqueline Laing. On 19 October 2004, when the Mental Capacity Bill was at its crucial committee stage, the Law Society issued a statement of ‘strong support’, claiming that it empowers patients and in no way introduces euthanasia. Laing argues that the Bill threatens the incapacitated by granting a raft of new third parties power to require that health professionals withhold ‘treatment’, which, after the controversial decision in Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789, includes food and fluids delivered both by tube and, in certain cases, by spoon. The Bill further endangers the vulnerable, first, by allowing non-therapeutic research on the non-consenting mentally incapacitated, in breach of the Nuremberg Code and First Declaration of Helsinki, and secondly, by permitting new agents power to undertake on people with learning disabilities certain questionable procedures currently authorised by the High Court, such as non-voluntary sterilisation.
Keywords Non-therapeutic research  Nuremberg Code  Dehydration to death
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