Bishops call for greater safeguards in Mental Capacity Bill

 The Catholic Bishops' of England and Wales have urged the Government to take further action to prevent the Mental Capacity Bill becoming a vehicle of euthanasia. In a statement issued last night - ahead of today's debate in the Commons, the Bishops said that while they welcome the fact that the Government has engaged in dialogue and already made significant changes to the draft Bill, nonetheless it still has two serious weaknesses. Unless these are addressed, the Bill could still become a vehicle for euthanasia by omission or withdrawal of medical treatment. The areas which cause concern are the checklist for factors identifying "best interests" and clause 58, which, while intended to meet the concerns many have expressed about bringing in euthanasia by the back door, still does not firmly close that door. Archbishop of Cardiff Peter Smith, Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: "We have greatly valued the reasoned debate we have had with the Government over this Bill, and we welcome those amendments which have already been made to improve and strengthen the proposed legislation. But we still have serious reservations that there remains a real danger of the Bill permitting proxy decision makers to act with a purpose of deliberately bringing about a person's death by refusing treatment in circumstances when otherwise the life of that person could and should be properly sustained. Among amendments which are being proposed, at least two would close the gap and we strongly urge the Government to accept them and ensure that there would then be no danger of allowing, even unintentionally, euthanasia by omission." Source: CCS

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