Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Killing with kindness

Something to be aware of: yet another controversy around the proposed removal of a feeding tube for an incapacitated person. This time it's in Britain. The man, Leslie Burke is still capable of expressing his wishes. The twist? Burke is suing to make sure his feeding tube is not removed.
Leslie Burke does not want to spend the rest of his life imagining a slow death by starvation. He can picture it: lying still, unable to communicate but conscious every second as his doctors let him die.

"That is, in my mind, the most inhumane way possible for someone to die," said Burke, 45, who suffers from a degenerative brain condition that in 15 to 20 years is expected to incapacitate him, taking away his ability to speak.
Apparently the General Medical Council, which oversees medical treatment in Britain, has granted doctors the prerogative to withhold life-prolonging treatment, including nutrition and hydration, if they deem the patient's quality of life so poor that treatment causes more suffering than benefit. They may do this even against a patient's wishes.
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