Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, is one of a cross-party group of Parliamentarians challenging the Government to take a more positive stand to prevent euthanasia by omission.
They have tabled an Early Day Motion, calling on the Government to publicise, through all relevant official channels, the Right To Life Human-Rights Care Card which people may carry to prevent them being made victim of the practice used in some hospitals of withdrawing assisted food and fluid with the purpose of causing death to some categories of patients.
In a statement, Peter Lilley said:
“This contravenes the European Convention of Human Rights which ?guarantees that no one should be deprived of his life intentionally?. We strongly object that the Department of Health has failed to take a stand against the British Medical Association?s Guidelines on Withholding & Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Treatment which encourages the withdrawal of assisted food and fluid from some patients who are not dying.
The Department should end their lack of action and come out in support of the Card. This warns that doctors who follow such practices could be faced with legal action. We are determined to see an end to the withdrawal of treatment with the aim of ending the lives of patients who are not dying. Throughout we have made it quite clear that we are not opposed to withdrawal of treatment which is futile or over-burdensome to the patient.?
The Early Day Motion states:
“This House notes that over two years have passed since the launch of the British Medical Association?s Guidelines on Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Treatment which advocated extending the withdrawal of treatment, including assisted food and fluid, from patients who were not dying; notes that this form of treatment was described in the Voluntary Euthanasia Society Scotland Newsletter as a ?form of non-voluntary euthanasia?; regrets, therefore, that the Department of Health has failed to inform hospitals that withdrawing food and fluid with the specific purpose of causing the death of patients contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights which ?guarantees that no-one should be deprived of his life intentionally?; therefore welcomes the Right to Life Human-Rights Care Card which people may carry in the same way that they currently carry organ-donor cards; notes that over 30 Right honourable and honourable Members and Peers attended the function to launch the card; applauds the fact that it makes clear that if anybody withdraws food and fluid (howsoever delivered) from the carrier with the purpose of causing death, they could be faced with legal action, followed if necessary by an application to the European Court of Human Rights; and calls on the Government to honour its pledge to oppose euthanasia and ensure that the Human-Rights Care Card is publicised through all relevant official channels.?
Early Day Motion 359, signed 26/11/01.