There is an article today in the Daily Mail (link below) which tells the story of a lady who consciously decided to starve herself to death because she felt her quality of life in a care home was far too low. As long as someone has capacity to make this decision they are legally allowed to refuse food and water until they die.
This adds an interesting angle to the assisted dying debate which has been highlighted extensively by Terry Pratchett and the Dignity in Dying lobby over the past three or four years.
It had never occurred to me that someone would have the ability to continuously refuse food and water and subsequently die. According to the article the doctor’s legal responsibility is to relieve suffering through rather than force a patient to eat or drink (which confuses me re hunger strikers who HAVE been force fed as far as I’m aware, but anyway..) So it begs the question – if people can voluntarily starve themselves why can’t we introduce assisted suicide here as it exists in Switzerland? It would seem a more human way to allow someone to die rather than have them starve themselves to death.
The article raises this and other huge questions but most important of all for the whole debate is one line halfway through where the author (and daughter) states “We needed to be certain that my mother was doing this for herself, not for me.”This has to be uppermost in the minds of legislators if/when this country one day agrees that people can decide for themselves when,where and how they should die.