On Tuesday the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship issued the following statement listing their strong objections to the Mental Incapacity Bill. The Mental Capacity Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons yesterday. The Vote was 326 in favour of the Bill and 62 against. But the vote does not tell the true story. The Debate revealed the dangerous flaws in the Bill. Many MPs from all parties made it clear that they were reluctantly voting in favour of the Bill because they support the main principle of the Bill, but want to see changes at Third Reading. Although this Bill is intended to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, many doctors and lawyers are concerned that the Bill will lead to unnecessary suffering and death for some patients. As currently drafted, the Bill compels doctors to abide by advance directives (ADs) refusing treatment made by patients in the past, even if refusing such treatment would cause the patient pain, suffering and death. Currently doctors can decide not to follow ADs because they are not always in the patient's best interests. There are many concerns about legally binding advance directives, not least of which is that it is impossible to make an AD that anticipates all the possible illnesses and conditions that a patient might face. Nor is there any way to prevent people from abusing this system. For example, greedy and selfish relatives may pressure people into making ADs or may even lie about the patient's wishes as the Bill allows oral ADs. In addition, doctors are concerned that this Bill is a step towards euthanasia as it allows the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from patients. It seems surprising that a Government which claims to be against killing patients with a lethal injection should introduce a Bill that makes it easier for patients to be starved to death. For something that purports to protect the vulnerable there are some glaringly defective safeguards within the Bill itself. Currently there are approximately 1500 members in the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship. Membership is open to anyone who is a Christian and involved with the lawe. One aim of the LCF is to seek to uphold Christian principles in the administration of the law throughout the United Kingdom.
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