Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Council of Europe states: Euthanasia must always be prohibited

On January 25, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a non-binding resolution titled: Protecting human rights and dignity by taking into account previously expressed wishes of patients concerning Advanced Directives, Power of Attorney, and Living Wills.

The resolution did not concern the issue of euthanasia, nonetheless, to eliminate confusion concerning the Living Wills, Article 5 of the resolution stated:
"Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited."
An article published in the Daily Telegraph (UK) on January 30 under the title: Assisted suicide should be illegal throughout Europe, human rights body rules, provided more information concerning the debate that  created article 5.

The article stated:
“The resolution had originally simply focused on the human rights questions of so-called living wills, in which people set out how they wish to be treated should they become mentally incapacitated.

But members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe argued that living wills, which became legal in Britain under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, were inextricably connected to euthanasia. They successfully moved an amendment forbidding euthanasia by 34 votes to 16 with six abstentions.”
Quoting the debate in the Council of Europe the article stated:
Among those fighting for the amendment was Edward Leigh, the Tory MP for Gainsborough and a member of the assembly. He referred to the case of Kerrie Wooltorton, a 26 year-old from Norwich who died from poisoning in 2007 after her living will prevented doctors from resuscitating her.
He said: “Can my fellow delegates here in Strasbourg imagine how they would feel if they received a phone call informing them that one of their children had drunk poison and that ambulance and hospital staff who had everything necessary to save the child’s life stood by not helping instead as the child lay dying? That is a situation that advanced directives or living wills allow.”
He added: “This is not alarmist talk – this is the historic fact, the track record.”
The principles in the resolution are designed to guide European nations in establishing legislation related to Living Wills, Power of Attorney’s and Advanced Directives.

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