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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Bishops issue statement on Mental Capacity Bill
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¬†The Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales issued the following statement today on the Mental Capacity Bill. The Mental Capacity Bill now being debated in Parliament is an important and far reaching measure aimed at improving the lives of those who lack capacity to take decisions for themselves. Although the Bill has been significantly improved by the inclusion of a clause making clear that nothing in it permits assisted suicide, it still has serious weaknesses in it. In particular, there is a need for further amendments if the Bill is not to carry the real risk of allowing euthanasia by omission ≠ that is, the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining medical treatment done with the purpose of bringing about the death of the person. A number of pro-life MPs, who have been working closely with Archbishop Peter Smith and Professor John Finnis, are tabling in Parliament two key amendments to the Bill: - to make clear that the definition of 'best interests' includes a person's interest in life and health, and - to insert a clause to make clear that the Bill does not authorise any decision made with the purpose of bringing about the death of the person. The pro-life MPs will also be tabling amendments to make clear that nothing in the Bill authorises the withholding of palliative care, defined as including the provision of food and water, however delivered. This additional safeguard would remove fears that a mentally incapable person who had made an advance decision to refuse all treatment, could be allowed to die of starvation or thirst by the removal of tube feeding. In addition we support the argument that the Bill would be much safer if advance refusals were advisory rather than legally binding. We also support the view that invasive medial research should not be permitted on people who cannot give consent. The Chairman of the all Party Pro-Life group of MPs, Jim Dobbin, has written to all the bishops and to parish priests in England and Wales to urge the Catholic community to support their efforts in Parliament to introduce these vital additional safeguards into this Bill. We fully support their appeal and encourage Catholics to support their efforts by lobbying their MPs now. We warmly welcome the Government's frequently-stated intention that this Bill is not intended to change the law and legalise euthanasia. We strongly urge the Government to accept these amendments to the Bill which are designed simply to ensure that this intention is carried out in practice. Source: CCS
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