Monday, 4 July 2022 – 13:56

UK Supreme Court supports end-of-life decisions

The UK’s Supreme Court has given legal permission to those in a permanently vegetative state to withdraw treatment.

Permission is no longer needed to withdraw food and liquid for patients in agonising vegetative states who want to end their lives.

Previously, legal applications had to be made by doctors to the Court of Protection in order to safeguard them from legal issues. This even applied when families of the patient had agreed that it would be in the patient’s best interest to withdraw from life support.

For over two decades, the Court of Protection has been deciding such matters. It used to be a very long and costly process for the authorities.

Lady Black had found that issuing legal permission for the end-of-life decision does not violate the Human Rights Convention.

It is now easier for doctors to withdraw food and liquid which kept vegetative patients alive when the patient’s family agreed that it could be withdrawn. 

Those in vegetative states are patients who often suffer or have suffered from an accident or illness and which left them to be paralysed and awake without any sign of awareness.

This decision was taken by the UK’s highest court due to a case of a fifty two-year-old man who had suffered from a heart-attack in 2017 who was identified as ‘Mr. Y’.

He was deemed extremely unlikely to recover from his state and that he was unaware of his surroundings. His family and doctors had agreed that he would not want to live in such a state as he was a very active man before his heart-attack. However, he had passed away before the court could resolve the issue but the official solicitor of the case chose to continue it because it was an issue with significant value. 

 

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