Campaigners warn Mental Capacity Bill may stall

Campaigners have raised fears that progress on the Mental
Capacity Bill may be stalled because MPs may be distracted by
“misplaced fears” about euthanasia, writes
Sally Gillen.

A debate this week on the bill, which is designed to give
greater protection to people who lack capacity to make decisions
about their lives, was dominated by concerns that it could
introduce euthanasia by “the back door”.

Richard Kramer, co-chair of the Making Decisions Alliance, a
coalition of 40 charities, said: “With recent high profile
debates about euthanasia and misplaced fears over some of the
effects of the bill, there is a real danger that the vital,
concrete benefits that it brings are overshadowed.”

David Lammy MP said: “We state categorically in the bill,
at clause 58, that it is not about euthanasia. Euthanasia remains a
criminal offence in this country and the bill does not change that
fundamental arrangement.”
The MDA said the bill had the potential to transform the lives of
more than two million people.

Concerns focus on the access of advance statements, which allow
people to refuse treatment which, according to the General Medical
Council’s definition includes the withdrawal of artificial
nutrition and hydration.

But the law already allows individuals to make such

Speaking in defence of the bill, Liberal Democrat spokesperson
for older people Paul Burstow said: “To view the bill as
dealing only with end of life would do a grave disservice to the
millions of people in this country who, from birth, after an
accident and through illness, find their capacity to make or
communicate decision impaired, fluctuating or lost “

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