Fears over ‘right to die’ debate and bill

Campaigners are concerned that progress on the Mental Capacity Bill
may be stalled because MPs could be distracted by “misplaced fears”
about euthanasia.

A commons 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 there was a real danger that the
benefits of the bill could be overshadowed by high profile debates
around euthanasia.

But Labour minister for constitutional affairs David Lammy said
that the bill itself stated that it was not about euthanasia.

Concerns focus on advance statements, which allow people to refuse
treatment, according to the General Medical Council’s definition
including artificial nutrition and hydration. But the law already
allows individuals to make such decisions.

Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Paul Burstow said viewing the
bill as dealing only with end of life would do a “grave disservice”
to the millions of people who lacked or lost the capacity to make

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