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Activists push 'all-or-nothing' advance decisions

more: Articles, Palliative Care, Articles/Palliative Care

11th May 2020

Assisted suicide advocates who've said their approach would 'save money in the long-term' are promoting 'all-or-nothing' advance decisions in the context of coronavirus, with little encouragement 'to consider the likely benefits and burdens of different treatments.'

Activists push 'all-or-nothing' advance decisions

There have been a number of instances across the country where health providers have urged patients 'to complete a DNR form so that "scarce ambulance resource can be targeted to the young and fit who have a greater chance'".' As academic Michael Wee writes in The Spectator:

'Such efforts are clinically inappropriate and ethically questionable. The inevitable suggestion made to the patient is that thanks to their condition their life has been judged less worthwhile - or not worth the burden on the state's resources.'

Wee goes on to observe that the sister charity of Dignity in Dying (the rebadged Voluntary Euthanasia Society), 'Compassion in Dying' - which has said its promotion of advance decisions would 'save money in the long-term' - has adapted to the new normal with a coronavirus-justified 'all-or-nothing approach'.

'Its bespoke advance decision pack… directs a person to consider refusing all life-sustaining treatment in the event of whichever condition one chooses to include. First on the list is "any type of dementia".

'What does this mean in practice? Suppose someone with dementia contracts pneumonia and because of the illness becomes more confused and unable to make decisions. If such a blanket refusal has been signed, doctors would be highly unlikely to administer even a simple course of antibiotics.

'The advance decision pack does little to encourage a person to consider the likely benefits and burdens of different treatments. Instead, it highlights the possibility of refusing life-sustaining treatment in 'situations that you would find intolerable', such as being 'unable to attend to my personal hygiene', or being 'persistently anxious or agitated'.

'The message is clear: people are asked to judge whether life with a certain condition or disability is worth living. Coronavirus, Parkinson's, or stroke - the question is the same, regardless of one's chances of survival. This cannot be less egregious than the actions of those two unfortunate GP surgeries. It is almost assisted suicide by the backdoor.'

Read Michael Wee in full at The Spectator.

© Image copyright of Robert Couse-Baker and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

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