Supporters of a proposed euthanasia law say it should go further by allowing binding end of life directives from patients to doctors.
Directives made by people earlier in their lives would allow patients to make choices about whether or not they would want to die if left incapable of making that informed decision later in life.
As written the bill would only allow those who doctors could be certain were understanding the gravity of their decision would be allowed to make it, meaning patients with dementia were unlikely to be able to access it.
An end of life directive would give choice to people who get inflicted with dementia. It allows them, before they lose their mental faculties, to say that if I ever end up in a state where I have no ability to recognise anyone, remember anything, enjoy anything, that I wish to have my life ended. It recognises quality of life can be more important than quantity.
End of Life Choice Society campaigner and former Labour MP Maryan Street said end-of-life directives would make the bill much stronger.
“When people are of sound mind and they anticipate their death, which may be from any number of things, they may decide that a diagnosis of dementia, or advanced symptoms of dementia, are things that they do not wish to tolerate,” Street said.
The key thing is people should have the choice.
Questioned strongly by National MP Maggie Barry on how these symptoms would be recognised, fellow submitter and doctor Jack Havill said there were strong points that could be set and recognised.
“There are good strong endpoints of dementia. One is that you cannot recognise your family or friends. One is that you cannot swallow your food. One is that you cannot go to the toilet by yourself,” Havill said.
No recognition and no ability to feed or clean yourself.
The Seymour bill is quite conservative in that it doesn’t allow end of life directives. I personally would prefer it is amended to do so.