The U.K. Supreme Court ruled last week that doctors and family members can remove feeding tubes from patients suffering from a permanent vegetative state or in a minimally conscious state.
“These patients are not imminently dying and with good care can live for many years,” wrote pro-life advocate Peter Saunders, who is the CEO of U.K. Christian Medical Fellowship, a network of doctors and medical students. “Once we accept that death by dehydration is in some brain-damaged people’s ‘best interests’ we are on a very slippery slope indeed.”
The decision arose from the case of a man suffering from brain injury who had no written advance directive. His family wanted to remove his feeding tube and allow him to die by starvation and dehydration, which can take between two and three weeks.
The man, known as Mr. Y, was a 52-year-old financial analyst who had a heart attack. The London Evening Standard reported that he was in “a prolonged disorder of consciousness.” —S.G.